An Approach to Design with People Who Have Special Needs

  • Selene Chew
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 373)


The main challenges when designing for people with disabilities are that 1) designers have difficulties empathizing with them; 2) designers tend to focus too much on the disability rather than the individual; and 3) people with disabilities have difficulties articulating their desires outside of their disabilities. A new approach is proposed to help designers overcome these problems. This involves getting insights from people without disabilities to understand the underlying desires of people with disabilities. Disabled people are then engaged as experts of their situations and invited to collaborate closely with the designers. This helps designers to focus on what people with disabilities want, instead of what they cannot do, and create solutions that have the greatest relevance and positive impact while maintaining minimal disruption to their everyday lives. The new approach is presented through the design process of “Blindspot”, a white cane that uses smart technology to improve the lives of blind people.


people with disabilities blind people white cane Blindspot 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Selene Chew
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Design & EnvironmentNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.The Ohio State UniversityUSA

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