I recently watched an elderly lady struggle to extricate herself from the front seat of a car. "Now there is a huge opportunity, " I said to myself, "we live in an aging society, yet we still design for the young and able. Why not address this huge, important market?"
There is a tendency to shy away from designing for the impaired. This is a special-interest group, it is feared, one that will drive away other customers. Wrong. Designs intended to make life easier for the elderly or handicapped can be useful for everyone. For example, sloping edges to sidewalks instead of steep-dropping curbs were intended for wheel chairs, but they help people wheeling luggage. Long-handled shoehorns were designed for people with arthritis, but they are useful to all of us. Resizable print in web browsers was intended for those with poor vision, but is useful when giving demonstrations or talks. Many otherwise able have special needs or a temporary injury. There is a much wider audience than just the elderly or the handicapped.
There are many opportunities for improvement within the automobile. Dashboards with larger, higher contrast lettering, gauges, and controls, easer to read with a quick glance, better under glare and sunlight. Radios and HVAC controls that can be used without taking the eyes off the road. Why not seats that swivel and slide to make it easier to enter and exit, or for that matter, to put in groceries, bulky packages, or child-seats? What about handles designed to help people get into and out of seats, not just for those handicapped or aged, but even for normal folks carrying stuff. And for the rear seat as well as the front.
Some auto companies talk about the problem. For several years I have had a Ford ergonomist demonstrate the Ford "Third-Age Suit" in my Product Design class, a suit designed to age the wearer 30 years so that young engineers can experience what it is like to be older. Ford is to be commended for its efforts, but if the suit has led to design improvements in Ford products, they are too subtle for me to detect.
Much remains to be done to the insides of cars to make them a lot more accessible. But note, there is no need to advertise these enhancements as aids for the disabled or the elderly. Advertise them as improvements for everyone. These would be major sales inducements, as essential as entertainment systems and cupholders.
Donald Norman is co-founder of the Nielsen Norman group, a cognitive scientist & design theorist who teaches at Northwestern and Stanford Universities and, in his spare time, writes books, including The Design of Everyday Things" and "Emotional Design: why we love (or hate) everyday things." He lives in northern California atwho solution definition where can we find an engineer where is apple research and development located how long startup repair windows 7 where device settings on iphone what start up expenses are deductible how much is microsoft roadmap where to put technical skills on resume how many manager does wizkid have road map where i am where to solve python problems which solutions are hypotonic who manufactures genesis cars which design is subject to chromatic aberration how much tech is in the s&p 500 how much science is required for upsc how teaching helps you learn why device manager can't open who's manager of psg when design a logo why solutions must be standardized what solutions are isotonic where management consultant where to find entrepreneurs how many project sekai characters are there why company register in delaware when project runway season 20 when startup season 4 why roadmaps are a waste of time who workers comp why management is important who teaching resources how london bridge fell where is solution in geography how system in human body who london office which teaching strategies can be used by teachers where is joma tech from why solution is considered as mixture what equipment is at planet fitness where science ends religion begins who manufacturers insulin why startup india where to design business cards where science and magic meet who makes dr equipment what device did you plug in founder of startup company where is aiken product from why solution called mixture where to teach english abroad how often to use newa device how many technology standard e commerce has what teaching jobs pay the most what design principle is based on repetition how business loans work how tech savvy are you how many solutions are there to this nonlinear system when system of linear equations is consistent why project management interview question who biomedical engineering how system bet works how much product to use skincare how much teaching course at unisa when manufacturing overhead is overapplied when product backlog refinement how to state a solution where is product key for microsoft office why startup india failed when tech bubble burst the de whose solution is y2 3ay x3 how many manufacturing jobs in the us what solutions are hypotonic roadmap when will hairdressers open which manufacturer has the most nascar wins how much startup costs can i deduct from where designers buy fabric how far science has come why company culture matters where entrepreneur live what engineering pays the most how many management theories are there where to check company registration jira roadmap which version who product mix how much solution in vax platinum what are the main design styles how long startup repair takes where emergency equipment where to buy science diet dog food which business development increases cash how far technology will go who is the first entrepreneur what solution attracts flies when starting up a business which london pass is best what science is taught in 10th grade how much develop an app how long teaching degree how tech companies are valued how products branded how often is continuously manufactured home why equipment is important how to introduce a founder where design criteria how to solve solution where to solve math word problems how startup stock options work from where the caste system originated where are entrepreneurs located how solution set how many manufacturing companies are in nigeria where are lf system from how long project management certification what solution kills ants what product is dr pepper which solutions are isotonic