Characterization of Disability Within Design Process

  • Author / Creator
    Biswas, Afrin Anowar
  • It is often assumed during product design that the product will be used by individuals who have two working eyes, ears, legs, feet, hands in addition to the ability to mentally process information in a very coherent way. Such assumptions during the design process negate the experiences of people with disabilities who have developed various useful strategies to cope with barriers and hazards they encounter everyday. The experiences and expertise of people with disabilities are very important in evaluating existing products and places as well as news designs in developments. One such instance where designers appreciated the experiences and opinions of people with disabilities and included them in the design process is the renovation of the Premier’s Council (PC) office space. Retrospective case study of the design process for PC office renovation is highlighted in this study to understand how disability is characterized in different ways and then designed into a physical space. The Premier’s Council is located in Edmonton, Alberta and was designed by architect Ron Wickman. The Council office embodies disability in overt ways through physical cues that tell a story of different kinds of disability. More interesting, however, is how the designer and design team got to the finished product through their understanding and characterization of the concept of disability. Although human actors (architect, clients, etc.) drove the process, it was the non-human actors (e.g., guidelines, policies and other objects) that became highly significant. The results of the study unravel an immensely complex heterogeneous network of human and non-human actors that contributes towards understanding how disability is situated in design process.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2013
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Textile & Clothing
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Bissonnette, Anne (Human Ecology)
    • Takach, Bonnie Sadler (Art & Design)
    • Terzin, Tomislav (Biology)