Work-based Learning Toolkit and Partnership Plans

Universal Design and Empathy

Universal Design is defined as “the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.[1] It involves designing products so that

  • they are flexible enough that they can be directly used (without requiring any assistive technologies or modifications) by people with the widest range of abilities and circumstances as is commercially practical given current materials, technologies, and knowledge.
  • they are compatible with the assistive technologies that might be used by those who cannot efficiently access and use the products directly.

Let’s see an example of empathy, universal design and immersive learning in action in this video:

Combining empathy with universal design is absolutely essential in not only with regard to disabilities but also age friendly innovation. To have a real impact on people’s lives, products must be made with the human user in mind.  If SME’s seeking to expand their products and services into the Age Friendly space do not have empathy or do not understand their customers they will not be able to innovate products or services to meet their needs.

Universal Design and Empathy for Age Friendly Economies 

Emily Duff is an Irish student entrepreneur who spent time volunteering with homeless people and designed a solution for those who choose to sleep rough rather than use a hostel. Most people would allow their bias to cloud their judgement and dismiss the rough sleepers for not choosing the hostel option, choosing help.

But Emily listened and learned that they were many reasons why this group avoided hostels for example, most are not pet friendly. Emily’s empathy and understanding lead her to design a special sleeping bag for rough sleepers.[2]




This post is also available in: Spanish Polish

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.