Good design is like

Universal design pioneer: Why design still excludes many

By Melanie D.G. Kaplan | February 14, 2011, 2:00 AM PST

Internationally known gerontologist and designer Pattie Moore says good design is like pornography: “You can’t really define it, but you know it when you see it.”

But one thing she knows for sure is that if someone can’t use a product—whether it’s a wounded soldier opening a door or your grandmother peeling a carrot—that’s a design problem. Universal design, which is an approach to the design of products and environments that makes them usable by people with the widest possible range of abilities, addresses this.

For three years in her 20s, Moore traveled North America disguised as women in their 80s to learn about the challenges facing older people. Since then, her design clients have included OXOHerman Miller Healthcare,AT&TCorning Glass and 3M. Today, she is on the road about 240 days a year, lecturing, consulting and working on new projects around the world. Last fall, her community rehab unit (Independence Way) opened at Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which I visited in January……

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