How accessibility benefits everyone

William Woods ASL

In a TED talk, designer Elise Roy shares how ‘design thinking’ helps to solve problems.

Design thinking is a process that includes defining particular problems, observing people in real-life situations while empathizing with them, and then working to solve those problems.

Roy explains how her experience as a Deaf person helped her to be a better designer, and utilize design thinking to its fullest.

“I get to experience the world in a unique way. And I believe that these unique experiences that people with disabilities have is what’s going to help us make and design a better world for everyone — both for people with and without disabilities,” said Roy.

Making project choices with disability in mind from the start of the process helps to create solutions that benefit everyone.

“I kept running into more and more solutions that were originally made for people with disabilities, and that ended up being picked up, embraced and loved by the mainstream, disability or not.”

She gives examples of products, such as the OXO potato peeler for people with arthritis that everybody loved because of its comfort; or simply, text messaging — originally designed for Deaf people but something everyone uses.

ASL Studies and ASL interpreting students can implement this kind of empathetic problem solving in whichever career paths they choose. Courses at William Woods University, such as Deaf Culture help to build this kind of understanding.

The next Look into ASL Studies post dives into how this kind of thinking can help Deaf and hard of hearing people when it comes to technology, as well as meet more recent Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.