Asee peer logo

Education And Teamwork Across Disciplines: A First Experience With An Interdisciplinary Course In Human Centered Design

Download Paper |


1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.215.1 - 4.215.7

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Lawrence H. Trachtman

author page

David Ringholz

author page

Carolyn M. Sommerich

Download Paper |

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

Session 3657

Education and Teamwork Across Disciplines: A First Experience with an Interdisciplinary Course In Human-Centered Design

Carolyn M. Sommerich (a), Lawrence H. Trachtman (b), and David Ringholz (b)

(a) Department of Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering (b) The Center for Universal Design and Department of Industrial Design, School of Design North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC


As we approach the 21st Century, significant demographic and ideological changes suggest that a design approach to make products, spaces, and environments more usable is warranted. Dramatic declines in mortality rates associated with a variety of illnesses, injuries, and age- related conditions have enabled an unprecedented number of people with disabilities to live longer and more independently. People also are growing older in record numbers and those aging into disability represent an ever-increasing proportion of the population. In addition, the disability movement that began in the 1970’s has changed attitudes regarding the participation of individuals with disabilities in society. However, community living also has brought exposure to the barriers imposed by a world designed to be used (at best) by people without disabilities. As a result, handicaps imposed by unforgiving products and environments designed and built irrespective of the needs of individuals with different abilities are significant and often unrecognized1.

Changes in who we are, what we can do, and where we live require a world that is more accommodating to variances in mobility, vision, hearing, cognition, and manual dexterity. All aspects of the physical environment including building layout and elements, signage, signal and alarm systems, telecommunications, and other user interfaces provide opportunities for improved designs that accommodate the needs of an increasing number of people with varying abilities. In fact, the magnitude of the population shift suggests that it would make more sense to design products and environments for everyone rather than creating different designs specifically for individuals who have limitations.

Universal design is an approach to creating everyday environments and products that are usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, regardless of age or ability2. Universal design involves a fundamental shift in thinking away from the practice of removing or overcoming environmental barriers for an individual or particular group of people (i.e., those with

Trachtman, L. H., & Ringholz, D., & Sommerich, C. M. (1999, June), Education And Teamwork Across Disciplines: A First Experience With An Interdisciplinary Course In Human Centered Design Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1999 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015