To make your solutions work, they will need to integrate the needs of the people, the possibilities of technologies and the requirements for business success. That’s the philosophy of human-centered design.
The Design Parameters shall help you to understand the context you are innovating for and make sure that your solutions are adapted to this context and the users of your products.
The design must satisfy the needs and constraints of the people who will use it. Do you know who they are and what the barriers are that they face? This includes physical, cultural and social barriers.
Designs which can be aspirational in the sense of having a ‘wow factor’ as they either enable an additional capability and may also be used by persons without disabilities, such as the elderly. Have you thought about what people like?
By far the failure of most products and/or adaptations has to do with the difficulty of repair and ongoing maintenance. All products and/or adaptations must be easy to maintain and repair (repair could be done either by the persons or within the community).
Factors such as efficiency, reliability, simplicity, safety and aesthetics should be taken into account to ensure products and/or adaptations are acceptable to users. Women in some cultures, children in others, and persons with disabilities in most are often prescribed roles that are even more disabling than the disability itself. Can your design help them break through such culturally accepted norms (e.g. can a woman with physical disabilities use motorised transport?)
All products and/or adaptations should be designed with enough flexibility to enable persons with physical disabilities, their families and/or caregivers to make necessary adjustments without the need for professional assistance on a daily basis. The products and/or adaptations must ease the lives of users, not make them more complicated.
Affordability refers to the extent to which people with physical disabilities can pay for the products and/or adaptations associated with it. In India, the average user will have a family income of between 5-8,000 rupees per month; this allows for very little disposable income. All products should be made with this in mind: Can a poor family afford it?
The solution needs to be user-friendly and designed for the target population. Technology is changing quickly, and any product using new technologies should be easily updated as the technologies evolve.
Watch the TEDx Talk by Alberto Cairo, Head of the ICRC’s Physical Rehabilitation Programme in Afghanistan. Over the last 24 years he has setup and managed prosthetic/orthotic centres in the country, which provide disabled people with physical rehabilitation and help them regain their place in society.
We want to create a repository of existing solutions. Have you heard of any? Let us know!