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Development Of An Interdisciplinary Service Learning Pilot Project Incorporating Universal Design Concepts For Ada Compliance

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Project-Based Student Learning: Part I

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.478.1 - 14.478.7



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Paper Authors


Donald Richter Eastern Washington University

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DONALD C. RICHTER obtained his B. Sc. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from The Ohio State University, M.S. and Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Arkansas. He holds a Professional Engineer license and worked as an Engineer and Engineering Manger in industry for 20 years before teaching. His interests include project management, robotics /automation, parametric modeling and rapid prototyping.

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William Loendorf Eastern Washington University

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William R. Loendorf is currently an Associate Professor of Engineering & Design at Eastern Washington University. He obtained his B.Sc. in Engineering Science at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside, M.S. in Electrical Engineering at Colorado State University, M.B.A. at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, and Ph.D. in Engineering Management at Walden University. He holds a Professional Engineer license and has 30 years of industrial experience as an Engineer or Engineering Manager at General Motors, Cadnetix, and Motorola. His interests include engineering management, real-time embedded systems, and digital signal processing.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Development of an Interdisciplinary Service Learning Pilot Project Incorporating Universal Design Concepts for ADA Compliance


Engineering and Engineering Technology students need to become more socially aware and learn to think of the entire population that may use the products or equipment they design. One of the main objectives of this project is to demonstrate how products can be designed to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and usable by all people. The concept of Universal Design has emerged as a key component of this effort. Universal Design involves the entire process from its conception to end use, thinking more inclusively of the entire population including those with disabilities. This paper describes a pilot project being developed to teach these new Universal Design concepts within the confines of a senior design project for Engineers and Engineering Technology undergraduate students. The students would participate in undergraduate research that has a service learning component while studying the principles of Universal Design. This paper describes how through the use of these types of projects a whole new generation of engineers could be trained to better serve our entire population by applying the components of Universal Design. This paper further discusses how this pilot development project could be a model for other universities to incorporate in their degree programs to enhance both the education of the student and the public awareness of how engineers can enhance the lives of people.


Engineering and Engineering Technology students spend years studying how to design products of all sizes, shapes, and descriptions. They learn that during the design process many factors are considered including economic, features, style, standards, safety, ecological, and other issues. However, the unique needs of the ultimate user of the product are often neglected. Products are merely designed for the "average user." This makes use of the product awkward, difficult, or even impossible for many members of the general population.

The over used expression "ease of use" may best describe the problem. This phrase implies that the product is easy for everyone to use. Nevertheless, almost everyone has discovered that it is a relative term based on a person's knowledge, skill, and ability. What is easy for some people to accomplish may be hard or not even possible for others. It is all too common for users to get frustrated while trying to make a product work as advertised and simply quit using it or return it to the store. Frequently the user has no alternative and must continue to struggle with it no matter how difficult, cumbersome, or unwieldy it may be.

In reality, designing a product that can be used by all people is not a simple task. The solution to this dilemma is to design products that can be used by people with a wide range of abilities. It is important to remember that regardless of how well a product is designed, some people will never be able to use it. Physical or mental restrictions will come into play and limit its use. However, it

Richter, D., & Loendorf, W. (2009, June), Development Of An Interdisciplinary Service Learning Pilot Project Incorporating Universal Design Concepts For Ada Compliance Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5169

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