The design of disability products with special reference to the user: case study: domestic seating for young adults with arthritis
AbstractValues, which shaped the approach to this project and thesis, were identified through contextual research. This consisted of secondary and primary research: Secondary sources included visual and literary information on disability-related products; approaches to design; a contemporary perspective of disability; arthritis; seating and seating recommendations. Primary research involved surveys of the seating that younger people with arthritis have, need and desire; furniture designed working with product users and a critical evaluation of tested prototypes. The project's ethos of user participation emanated from contemporary understanding of disability and design documented in the contextual research. Working closely with product users brought about designs that could not have been achieved in isolation or directly from the secondary sources. A design brief was derived from the contextual research. Through creative practice concepts were developed and a chosen solution applied to a practical design project - domestic seating for young adults with arthritis. A chair, footrest and cabinet were designed and critically appraised, in their sketch development, mock-up and prototype form, by a group of product users. Ideas were revised and advanced by consulting the users and acting on their observations and advice. Further refinements could be made to the design prototypes through this iterative process. The testing programme was vetted by the University's ethics committee to confirm its appropriateness. Ten adults, 16-46 years, with arthritis, experimented with the prototypes in their own home and kept a diary. They were interviewed twice, once before their seating trial to describe their existing seating arrangements and once after to rate their views and give their 'gut-reactions' to the seating's functional and aesthetic qualities. These interviews were recorded and transcripts were made and analysed. Each participant was thanked for their involvement. Valuable criticisms of the prototypes arose, less obvious human concerns surfaced and personal fancies were expressed regarding: the satisfaction of the posture and positioning; the choice of finishes; a sense of 'ownership'; appropriateness to lifestyle and the ability to service people's established habits. Care was taken to retain the individual nature of participant's observations and recommendations, these were grouped by topic from which design case study and project conclusions were made. Product satisfaction depended on the relevance of the information gathered and how it was interpreted and developed into a design. With the participation of product users it is possible to design to include individuality, rather than for a constituency solely defined by their impairments. For examination purposes, two and three dimensional design work accompany this written thesis and were available during the viva voce.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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