Common Five Fatal Flaws of Designers for the Adaptive Community – Erik Kondo

The Five Fatal Flaws refer to able-bodied designers innovating products for the Adaptive Community. But these flaws are not exclusive to able-bodied designers. Having a disability doesn’t guarantee that you will not make some or all of the same mistakes too. My purpose in highlighting these issues is not just to be critical, but to inform in the hopes that awareness of these problems will foster change.

  1. Not taking into account how your Implicit Bias as an able-bodied person effects your understanding of the problem.
    As an able-bodied person, you view the problems faced by people with disabilities through your personal perspective. Your perspective affects both the problems that you “see” and the solutions you come up with, and makes it difficult to account for the new problems that your solution will likely create. You only understand a small slice of the problem and are unware of the many nuances involved.
  2. Assuming that wheelchairs and wheelchair users are monolithic groups.
    Not taking into consideration that wheelchair users are a diverse population, and the wheelchairs that they use are vastly different in terms of design and functionality. There is a large difference between the function and dynamics of a hospital style wheelchair and an ultra-light wheelchair. Solutions that work for one type of wheelchair don’t necessarily apply to other types.
  3. Infatuation with your current design idea.
    Once you have decided that you have the “solution” to the problem, you tend to seek confirmation and avoid contrary opinions. You are willing to slightly alter your project, but make radical changes. You have fallen in love with your design more than actually solving the problem.
  4. Ineffective sampling of the population of intended users,
    You talk to a few people and think that these people provide an accurate representation of the adaptive community/marketplace. And/or you use surveys and interview questions/methods that don’t provide you with actionable information.
    You select test subjects who are unable or unwilling to provide constructive criticism and negative feedback. The test subjects seek to be pleasing and are caught up into your enthusiasm for your project.
  5. Not taking into consideration how the economic factors of the Adaptive Community differs from that of the general population. Products for sale for people with disabilities are heavily affected by insurance companies and regulatory agencies. In addition, the economics are influenced by the presence of oligopolies, and a customers base who is many times uneducated about products and living on a fixed income.