When we say Design for All … what are we talking about? -…

First of all, it must be clarified that Design for All is not Design for disability, even though the subject areas are strictly connected and crossed.

Awareness of disability arose in the first half of the twentieth century after the devastating effects of world wars on the population. Just to give a figure, the number of invalids caused by World War I in Italy was almost 500,000. It is clear that in the light of these figures, disability for the first time concerned a very large part of the population and therefore constituted a social phenomenon. In the following decades, the concept of disability was gradually expanded to a more general way of evaluating the performance of individuals, thus on the one hand the different types of possible motor and perceptual difficulties, up to cognitive, and eventually taken into account. also to understand the obstacles that are simply caused by age. In a way, it has gradually been realized that few are in full possession of all physical functions, and almost no one is in full possession in life. For the most part, we all experience some kind of disability, even temporarily: it is enough to break a leg, but also to have a small child or old age to understand how insurmountable obstacles, which were previously trivial in everyday life, can be .

Designing for All therefore means designing for ourselves and not for a hypothetical individual.

Disability and handicap
The disability is the consequence of a disability that determines a lack of ability to act, while the disability is the disadvantage that the disabled person encounters when he is placed in the community. This distinction is very important because it highlights the fact that the human environment, unlike the natural, can and must be built on a human scale.

Design for All (DfA) has its origins in Scandinavian functionalism in the 1950s and in ergonomics from the 1960s. A major role in this discipline was played by the Scandinavian welfare policy, which in the late 1960s invented the concept of a “society for all”, which later merged into the UN rules on equal opportunities for people with disabilities, adopted by the UN General Assembly in ’93 . The orientation of the rules towards accessibility, in a clear context of equality, is a continuous source of inspiration for the development of the philosophy of Design for All. Similar concepts have been developed with US Universal Design, which provides convenient list control to support designers lead and monitor projects, or British Exclusive Design. In recent decades, the European Community has, first and foremost, enacted laws aimed at removing architectural barriers to ensure accessibility for buildings for people with disabilities at various levels.

Design for All is a cultural approach to the project, which, taking into account the legislation, expands the horizon beyond the mere application of law, and combines the technical aspects with the more general of the quality of the architectural project and ultimately of the quality. of life.

In a global market, the range of human, demographic, cultural and skills is increasingly expanding. We survive diseases and injuries and live with disabilities like never before. Although today’s world is a complex place, it is a man-made place, and therefore we can and must base our projects on the principle of inclusion.

“Design for all is design for human diversity, social inclusion and equality” (from the Stockholm Declaration of EIDD, 2004).

This interdisciplinary approach, far from being a constraint, is a creative and ethical opportunity for designers, entrepreneurs, public administrators, politicians and decision makers. The purpose of Design for All is to facilitate equal opportunities for participation for all, in any manifestation of society. To achieve the goal, the built environment, everyday objects, services, digital equipment, culture and information – in short, everything designed and made by humans for other people’s use – must be comfortable for everyone in the world to use society and able to respond to the development of human diversity: in short, they must be accessible.

Accessibility is therefore the key word, however widely understood, given in addition to the motor aspects to which we are often led to limit the reflection, also the sensory and cognitive aspects.

Individuals are all different and as such valuable. There is no standard individual. In this sense, human diversity is a resource that a product for all flexibly adapts to. In this sense, the multisensory approach is also very important, which makes it possible to satisfy the largest number of people by meeting and compensating for each individual deficit. From small to large scale, a for All product takes into account the visual aspects determined by the light and the chromatic contrast, for example in the paths of the visually impaired, the tactiles derived from the ergonomic shape and the roughness of the surfaces, which facilitates the grip of objects persons with reduced capacity in the hands or who guide the blind in the use of objects, acoustic or smelling, which can also be natural guides, as well as well-being factors.

If we take as our starting point the assumption that Design for All is the project for social inclusion, the project that meets not only the needs but also everyone’s hopes, it is important to consider the so-called “end users” as active subjects. of which it is necessary to know and consider the varied composition, but also the reactions to the environment. A product for everyone must therefore also be beautiful in order to contribute to the individual’s physical and spiritual well-being and not be a cause of discomfort to those who use it.

In fact, the perception that users have of architectures and products may be profoundly different from that of the experts. We are talking about Design for All and therefore about form and function, but in a perspective that also takes into account the “external” looks in relation to the designers.

Furthermore, as users, we must not only understand the “users” in their various potentials and needs, but also those who find themselves in producing, storing, marketing, implementing or managing a product or system for various reasons.

Designing for everyone means expanding the number of possible recipients of a product or system, it means strengthening the supply, expanding the market and making the project sustainable.

Designing friendly places and products that make themselves understandable, usable, that actually invite us to use them to make everyone freer, means learning to listen and thinking that the life of an artifact begins in full with its use.

Marcella Gabbiani

Source: PdE, No. 62

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