Blog 7: Learning to be empathetic

This week we continued to talk about empathetic design; we discussed designing while taking others into consideration, and finding simplistic solutions for problems that arise. While in class we learned about simple problems that arise in day-to-day activities for the aging population. In my group we put on glasses that showed what it would be like to have decreased vision. As well as tied a string around our fingers to show what it would be like to have arthritis. After completing both activities I realized how hard it would be to do the simplest of tasks. Even reading simple print on books was difficult while wearing the glasses. This exercise helped me realize how hard it really is for the elderly community to really do the menial tasks we take for granted. Which made me think that designers should engage in something like this more often. It’s not about having sympathy for those who are disabled or having pity on those individuals. It’s about, understanding that they are not going to be able to use the same products with the same ease. And taking that into account when we design for people other than ourselves.

What stuck out most to me was that the video that we watched last week explained empathic design perfectly. She took a walk in someone else’s shoes and learned from that experience. It isn’t about disabling people through the designs but instead about designing for the user and for the function. Through designing for function we are creating goods that aren’t going to need to be replaced, we are creating goods that are going to be around for the long run. Because the goods will be around for the long run we are eliminating the unneeded waste that comes with having things becoming obsolete.

The video we watched about the hospital bed brought back experiences I’ve had or watched family members go through. I remember when I was in middle school I had to get surgery on my elbow. I remember lying in the hospital bed for a few hours and thinking I was going to go crazy because of there being nothing around me. It’s weird to think that a short period of time can have such a strong effect on us emotionally. But that video alone brought me back to the feelings that I had and reminded me that it isn’t about having sympathy of those but instead being empathetic. We have to understand that they aren’t disabled but we still need to design for function.

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