A blog about universal and accessible design

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Using Design to Crack Society's Problems

Yes, it is possible, says Hillary Cottam to Alice Rawsthorn in Fast Company.

A couple of projects from Cottam's past work with the Design Council in England:

"Earlier this decade, while working for the Design Council, Cottam turned to health care. Originally she planned to rethink hospital design but became more interested in community-based services for sufferers of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. "One in four people in Britain now has a chronic disease that's treated at home," she says. "So why are we investing in hospitals rather than community-based solutions?

"[Another] problem the Design Council team identified is that diabetes sufferers often forget to raise important issues with doctors and caregivers. The solution was a pack of diabetes cards, each printed with a question to be used as a prompt. Superficially it looks like a health-care project but, as Cottam points out, design techniques were critical in identifying patients' problems and producing an efficient graphic solution. "It's amazing how new the simple design concept of understanding users is to many in the health-care field," says Tim Brown, CEO of the design firm Ideo, which works in U.S. health care, among other industries."

Cottam has started her own firm for these social design projects, Participle.

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