Building Capacity in Accessible Design: Design of Inclusive Learning Experiences

Publication Type: 

Wireless RERC researcher, Dr. Young Mi Choi, presented Introducing Design Project Concepts in an Undergraduate Lecture Course at the Design and Ergonomics: Designing of Inclusive Learning Experience conference.  The conference convened in Florence, Italy on May 10, 2019.  The full proceedings have not yet been published, but they will be available at this open access publisher:

In the meantime, paper abstract is below:

One of the challenges instructors face is training students on how to identify problems and opportunities.  The process of problem-solving, coming up with a solution to a problem which has already been defined, is already familiar since it is an exercise that most students have done for most of their academic lives.  Finding and solving problems involve four general stages: Gap Identification/ Problem Recognition, Problem Diagnosis/Formulation, Alternatives Generation, and Alternatives Selection.  Problem Recognition is realizing that an issue exists.  Problem Diagnosis involves gathering information relevant to the issue in order to more specifically define it.  Alternatives Generation involves using the gathered data to come up with possible ways to get from the current state to the desired state.  Alternatives Selection involves picking the solution that is the best resolution for the issue based on everything known about the problem. 

In a world with complex and inter-related problems, Problem Recognition, which also might be called identifying design opportunities, is an increasingly important skill for designers and engineers.  This is especially true for those aspiring to be entrepreneurs or leaders in a particular discipline.  Companies devote significant resources to the development of new products with development and testing using up to 54 % of the total. It is important to both identify new product and feature ideas that are viable. With problems that cross disciplinary boundaries, there is a need to effectively mix engineering approaches to generate technical solutions along with creative and user-focused approaches more commonly associated with industrial design.

An early introduction and a chance to gain practical experience with both Universal Design and Assistive Design are important.  With an early introduction to these concepts, students will have the opportunity to apply their experience to both future projects during the course of their training and into their professional careers (whether product design or other fields).

The aim of this paper is to describe approaches for introducing undergraduate students in both design and engineering to the concepts of Universal Design (UD) and to the design of Assistive Technology (AT) devices.  A design project undertaken in an introductory class in human factors and ergonomics is presented.  A total of 89 students completed a survey at the end of the project self-reporting what they learned.  The results indicated that students learned a lot, particularly from interactions with users, and expect to use what they learned in future professional contexts.

Date of Publication: 
Tuesday, June 25, 2019


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.