This first phase of the work was undertaken in collaboration with Design for Ability at Central St Martins and the Design Council. It resulted in an influential Design Council policy paper Living Longer: the new context for design, a major text book with contributions from an international panel of authors Inclusive design: design for the whole population, a ‘knowledge cell’ on Inclusive Design for the Design Council’s website, and web resources for education. Accompanying industry collaborations through the HHC Research Associates Programme delivered exemplar case studies of inclusive design, including new products for B&Q.
i~design 1 laid the groundwork for a new British Standard BS7000-6 2005 - a guide to managing inclusive design, and new initiative supported by a group of voluntary sector organisations led by Scope. The goal was to engage the business community in inclusive design, and with support from the Design Council, the DTI and BT the eventual outcome was a series of workshops with UK companies and a web resource for industry in the form of an Inclusive Design Toolkit. The web resource went live in the summer of 2007.
In parallel with this the practice-based strand of the Centre’s work delivered a substantial body of case studies of inclusive design in action in support of the business case as presented by the British Standard and BT Toolkit. These case studies fall into two distinct groups: first industry collaborations through the Research Associates Programme; and second, design collaborations by leading UK consultancies working with ‘critical users’ to develop inclusive design exemplars across a range of design disciplines.
This third phase of research, took the various practice models developed by the Centre as its subject matter. We know that designers can rapidly empathise with users, and that the challenge of working with disabled people can spur innovation and inspire new design thinking. But what we do not yet understand is how to relate those intense experiences and insights to the range of capabilities across the whole population.
By exploring ways to bridge between empathy and hard data we brought a greater degree of certainty into inclusive design, without undermining its innovative potential. To do that we needed to know more about how designers work, what makes them tick, and what will encourage them. We needed the companies that commission designers to see the benefit in working with users. We also aimed to better understand how we can construct small groups of users to accurately reflect much larger sectors of the population. Through this work we determined how what we learn from small groups of users can be generalised in a meaningful way.