Teaching Universal Design : How and Why
Universal design is a product design philosophy that strives to give freedom to all; the freedom of mobility, the freedom to work, to enjoy entertainment, and to use ones’ physical and mental abilities without encountering unnecessary barriers. Software design in higher education should focus not only on technology, but on people, psychology, learning theories, attitudes, empathy, and demography. Students must learn to understand that people differ widely in physical and cognitive ability, and computer literacy. This paper describes a third year bachelor course in Universal design at Oslo University College (OUC) in 2008.The course was student-driven. Student assistants gave assignments and acted as supervisors under the guidance of a professor. Experts were hired as guest lecturers. Project groups of 2-4 students defined design problems, and created solutions using prototyping techniques with active user participation. Testing was performed with personas and real users. Test persons were fellow students, and users from organizations for the deaf, blind and Parkinson’s disease (PD). There were many interesting and innovative project results. One of the projects evolved into a larger research project.