Design for dignity!


Do you remember your last airport experience? Mostly we rush through it. As quick as possible we pass through security, check in our bags, proceed to the plane. Maybe before that you rush to the bathroom and/or buy yourself a take-away coffee. On the plane we store away our carry-ons in the overhead bins and sink into our seats ready to be taken to whatever the destination might be. Airports are designed to be rushed through. But, designed for whom?

Perspectives, plural

Now, imagine the same experience for a person with a height of 105 centimeters (3′ 5″). He or she cannot reach on top of a counter, is not able to lift the luggage from the ground to the carousel or into the overhead bin, a quick run to the toilet is met by insurmountable obstacles. He or she has to be wheeled through the airport, though that person is not in need of a wheelchair, but „because the design of an airport and its lack of accessibility means that it’s my only way to get through “, says Sinéad Burke.

In her eye-opening and very personal talk “Why design should include everyone” Sinéad Burke, who inherited the condition of achondroplasia from her dad, reminds us of the enormous impact design has on all of us.

„Design greatly impacts upon people’s lives, all lives. Design is a way in which we can feel included in the world, but it is also a way in which we can uphold a person’s dignity and their human rights.”

Who even wants to be “average”?

If we think of design, we usually think of aesthetically pleasing and practical. But, to whom? “Everyone”, one is tempted to answer. But that is certainly not true since different people have different needs. Most objects, think of your chairs, clothes, car or bike, desk or phones are designed for the “average” person. But who is this “average” person? Since our society becomes more and more diverse, designers have to keep a close eye on possibly evolving needs to be able to adapt their designs and make them accessible for as many different people as possible.

In her heartfelt talk, Sinéad Burke, who calls herself “proud to be a little person”, challenges us to change our perspective by opening our eyes to our fellow humans.

picture credits: TEDNYC


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About Elli Kling

Elli loves nothing more than travelling the world & getting to know other cultures. She likes reading, cooking and is obsessed with japanese green tea. She has a background in communications, enjoys writing and is also part of the TEDx Communications & PR Team.

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