On 4th of November I participated in a lecture at Helsinki University of Business (Studia Generale by Simo Vehmas). This lecture was about the human rights of people with disabilities . This interesting topic carried me and my thoughts towards an ideal world, where everyone could live their life unlimited by their special needs.
As a design thinker I started creating my idea of better world for the handicapped. The world has been mainly designed for people without any limitations. It is just a fact that still today most of the disabled population face lots of discrimination and difficulties on a daily bases.
In previous years the disabled were automatically pushed out of the society. Even today in the 3rd world a child with a disability is pushed aside and are unwelcomed to participate in every day life. They are even left to fend for themselves, with no support from anybody.The disabled have deeper connection within his or her own enviroment.
Going to work is a basic daily routine for most of us – the disabilty have much larger obstacles than the abled person; even applying for a job without being categorized is a battle for them. The disabled are more than happy to work, though employers look at this issue differently. Most of the companies don’t have the desire to hire disabled people, as this seems to be too complicated.
Being disabled is not always physical; a mental disorder is much harder to take into consideration, when designing some services. Again in past history people like this has been categorized to be a “lunatic” and so they are not wanted and are to be taken out of the sight. There are many movies about this topic. One great example is Finnish movie called “Princess” by Pirjo Toikka, Arto Halonen and Paavo Westerberg. This movie tells a true story of young lady called Anna Lappalainen with schizophrenia. She thinks she is the princess of this Kellokoski Hospital. She is a happy girl until the doctors want to make her “healthy” – she will be treated with lobotomy. After this operation her life is ruined. Do the medical experts always know what is the best for disabled population?
Although attitudes are changing and we are living in modern world. Service design has already created amazing tools to help people with physical handicaps. Services in Finland such as schools and other public institutes have been considering their needs and have provided for example wheelchair access. Our public transport includes so called lower floor carriages in trains and trams to make entry easier for the physically disabled as well as for wheelchairs. With the help of technology wonderful things have been created to help people with all kind of difficulties.
As a designer I found this example the most touching idea of the lecture. This video clip looks at fashion and the disability from the persons point of veiw. As a brand I am sure this company will be noticed and remember. “We often go chasing after ideals instead of accepting life and all of its diversities” – This is the most important base in my opinion when designing services! Get closer to your customer and listen to their needs.
Written by Paula Nordfors – Laurea, Helsinki, Finland