Product design education: a kit for building empathy

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Silvina FélixMiriam Reis

Abstract: Challenges around inclusive design and social design consciousness require understanding the thoughts and feelings of the people around us. The role of empathy in the design process is widely recognized in the literature, increasing the attention of researchers and design educators to include empathic design as a research approach in product design education. Developing empathy through experiencing others’ life provides opportunities for students to understand how people with disabilities live, feel and experience their everyday life. Product design students need to gain socially conscious awareness and improve their empathic horizon. According to the literature, through training and experience, the empathic horizon of designers can be extended and changed over time. To acquire more empathy with people, simulation devices or wearable kits can be designed to mimic the weaknesses and limitations of people with disabilities. This paper describes an empathic design process where the students designed and prototyped an empathic wearable kit and perform the task independently. Putting on ‘other shoes’ the students record the experience in video and use the think-aloud technique to communicate the difficulties felt during the task. By learning to empathize, students can improve their abilities to recognize and make interpretations of what people think, feel, and need. Empathy practice during product development can provide empathic collect probes to help in students' design process decisions.

Keywords: Empathic Design, Inclusive Design, Empathic Modelling, Students’ empathic horizons

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003945

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