Universal Design in the Technology Education Curriculum: Experiences from Norway
In recent decades the engineering and technology education curriculum has changed from being purely technical oriented towards being more socially aware. In addition, to adequately master technologies and subsequent technical problem solving, engineers need to be alert to potential social impacts of their work and reflect upon their decisions accordingly . Most engineering studies have included elements of ethics for some time. During the last decade, environmental issues including renewable technology have gained an increasing emphasis. A growing trend is that legislation in various countries requires that the presence of universal design, being it the physically-built environment or the virtual environment, be accessible to as a large segment of the population as possible. These new expectations demand engineers to be aware of the problems and the impact of their work as well as being trained to design with universal accessibility in mind. This paper briefly reviews the phenomenon of universal design, the recent trends in standards and legislation, and how these changes are affecting the engineering profession. Experiences with the inclusion of universal design in engineering education curriculum at several higher education institutions in Norway are provided.
Sandnes, Frode Eika