Limiting disproportionate disaccommodation in design for human variability

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Abstract

In the design of artefacts, tasks and environments for human use, the body dimensions of the target population are a critical element in spatial optimisation of the design. This study examines how the choices designers make affect the ability of different user groups to safely and effectively interact with a designed artefact. Due to the variability in body size and shape across different demographic groups, heterogeneous user populations are unlikely to experience uniform levels of performance. The associated variability in the rate of unacceptable user conditions is referred to here as disproportionate disaccommodation. This is both an ethical and a performance concern that can partially be addressed through improved design practice. Three methods for incorporating the consideration of user demographics and the corresponding variability in body size and shape are presented. They are compared with a baseline strategy in terms of accommodation and cost. Practitioner Summary: Many common design strategies will unintentionally disaccommodate some user demographics at disproportionate rates. Minorities are at greater risk for disaccommodation, and consequently, disproportionate injury rates. This study presents evidence of disproportionate injury rates, discusses three methods of designing for demographics and evaluates and compares these methods with a baseline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-65
Number of pages14
JournalErgonomics
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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