Academic journal article Contemporary Management Research

Implementation of Universal Design in South Asian Countries

Academic journal article Contemporary Management Research

Implementation of Universal Design in South Asian Countries

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

As the aged and the disabled show a desire and a determination to live productive lives, universal design (UD) products could allow independence in daily life among these people. UD products are designed in such a way that they are usable to the greatest extent possible, by people of all ages and abilities. This research uses a descriptive analysis of data collected through a survey of 142 respondents in South Asian countries to determine their levels of awareness and practice of UD, willingness to pay more for UD products and preferred features in durable goods. The survey results show that South Asians are not very aware of UD, even though UD is already being incorporated into durable goods. There are three reasons driving market opportunities for UD products in South Asia. First is the consumers' belief that the market for durable goods will increase. Second is the consumers' willingness to pay 25% higher for UD products. Finally, consumers face problems while using products even though they have no disability. Furthermore, this paper discusses why some consumers like or do not like features in current products. This paper also discusses easier and safer features preferred by consumers of all age groups.

Keywords: Awareness, Durable Goods, Practice, South Asia, Universal Design

INTRODUCTION

Universal Design (UD) is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design (Mace, 1988). Initially, UD was incorporated into the built environment and information technology. It is, however, being incorporated in a variety of fields now.

There are several studies concerning the importance of UD in ergonomics, human-centered technology and information technology. Well-known approaches like "User's Pyramid" (Benktzon, 1993), "The Inclusive Design Cube" (Keates, Clarkson, Harrison, & Robinson, 2000), and "Bottoms Up" (Goldsmith, 2001) are some examples, which are incorporated in the products or services and built environment (buildings, streets and communication etc). Furthermore, some researchers discuss a trend towards UD to increase overall performance of a company (Steinfeld & Shea, 2001; Asai & Konta, 2006; Hasegawa & Asai, 2007).

Other researchers discuss trends of UD in different countries (Singanpalli, 2001; Ikeda, 2005; Erlandson, 2008). UD has been drawing attention in many parts of the world. Despite rapid demographic change, economic growth and development growth in many developing countries are similar to those of developed countries. UD is, however, limited to the developed countries. It is natural to view UD in South Asia in a different perspective than UD in developed countries.

Prajapati and Asai (2009) have studied UD in the context of India to know its practices. They state that India has adopted UD in infrastructure and education. The authors assumed that the present condition of UD in other South Asian countries is similar to that in India. In this paper, the authors have expanded their research to other South Asian countries.

South Asia is home to well over one fifth of the world's population, making it the most populous geographical region in the world. In addition, South Asia is home to more than a quarter of the world's disabled population. South Asia is a group of eight countries. These countries have many similarities in demographic, social, economic, geographic, and political aspects (Agarwal & Anand, 2007). In this paper, South Asia is limited to Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and the rest of the South Asian countries are included as others (Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Pakistan). The reason for combining a group of countries as "others" is because a low number of respondents to our survey came from those countries.

The main motivation behind this research is a current scenario of problems in South Asia. This scenario consists of rapid aging (see Figure 1), a trend of increase in nuclear families (couple), increase in the number of women jobholders, increase in disposable income and increase in production of multi-functional products etc. …

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