United States of America

Professor Deana McDonagh, from UIUC and an associate member of Coventry University was an integral part of the project, visiting all three countries, providing a photojournal, design ideas and training on empathy – a key concept for the project

This page features her design sketches and details the empathy workshop conducted with the team members at the Coventry knowledge exchange workshop.

Design

We have identified that one solution will not fit all women and/or suit all cultures. There are macro and micro challenges that need to be addressed that need to be culturally based. What we are mindful of is that female mobility issues impact the individual deeply and their community.

Services, Products and Environments

Empathy allows us to share our experiences that will support more effective design decision-making, especially for the diverse range of community members that are often overlooked, neglected or undervalued. This approach is for everyone (e.g. citizens, policy makers) that is dedicated to empowering women. Empathic understanding enables us to provide real change for real people.

How Empathic Understanding Can Impact Everyday People – Especially Women

In this document, the US design outputs aim to address the challenge of providing additional security when staying in a hotel room and/or AirBnB, through the design solution of a door wedge concept that would be portable and discreet for the individual.

empathy workshop

Understanding Others: Reducing Gender Poverty

Experience the experience of someone else’s experience

Gender poverty can manifest itself in many ways, subtly and obviously from a woman not being able to travel to a medical appointment to not being able to walk down the street without being accompanied. The experiences of women within the same culture and country can be significantly different to their neighbours. We need to acknowledge that being mindful, respectful and proactive will lead to change.

Empathic modeling is a tool that encourages us all to walk a mile in someone’s shoes in order to better understand a person’s life experiences. For each individual there is real value in gaining insight into the members of our communities that are challenged by the material landscape (all the products that fill our environments) and the infrastructure (e.g. buses, condition of road, street lighting) that can pose insurmountable challenges for individuals.

Innovative thinking that leads to real solutions can emerge when adapting your own level of ability while completing an activity of daily living (e.g. grooming, cooking, shopping) as it provides increased awareness and sensitivity to challenges.

The following examples offers ways in which relatively easy to access materials can be used to impair and adopt a person’s ‘(dis)ability’ prior to an everyday activity.

  • tape hands (including the thumbs)(to simulate arthritis in hands and limited dexterity)
  • hear buds or noise cancelling head phones (to simulate reduced hearing)
  • putting corn kernels in shoes (to simulate diabetic nerve pain in feet)
  • taping knees and elbows (to simulate reduced mobility related to aging)

Services, Products and Environments

Empathy allows us to share our experiences that will support more effective design decision-making, especially for the diverse range of community members that are often overlooked, neglected or undervalued. This approach is for everyone (e.g. citizens, policy makers) that is dedicated to empowering women. Empathic understanding enables us to provide real change for real people.

How Empathic Understanding Can Impact Everyday People – Especially Women

  • increase lighting at bus stops and train station platforms
  • introduce blue lighting that has been found to reduce crime and physical attacks in public spaces (e.g. train stations, university campuses)
  • clearer navigational signage
  • software that alerts female travellers to challenging parts of a city
  • increase curb cuts to accommodate wheelchairs, prams and strollers

References to use of empathic design in education

  • Woodcock A., McDonagh D., Magee P., Ball T. and Iqbal, S. Expanding horizons: Engaging students with empathic thinking. In E. Bohemia, et al (Eds.), Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Towards a New Innovation Landscape, E and PDE 2019. IED, The Design Society
  • Woodcock A, McDonagh D and Osmond J. Developing Empathy for Older Users in Undergraduate Design Students. Design and Technology Education Journal, 23(2): 24-39, 2018
  • The carousel shows images of experiental simulation by the research team around Coventry University