Personal experiences and curiosity guided my passion to learning how to interact and understand different cultures around the world. I’ve composed my series of research to build a story of cultural respect for a variety of people around the world. The path that I’ve taken has formed my interest in healthcare and wellness while creating new found dreams to pursue social entrepreneurship and travel around the world. As my education unfolded, I developed new interests from being exposed to new areas such as Burma in Southeast Asia, and developing a deeper understanding of the root of the problems in sub-Saharan Africa. I am more aware of how I can apply my new, global knowledge to different locations and people.
This wide variety of cultural research improves my ability to ‘Design For All.’ Design For All speaks to designing for disabilities, but the strategies factor in the decisions that need to be made by understanding the cultural, psychological and physical factors of all people. In the design profession, understanding people, in different contexts, changes your perspective on how to design the world that we interact with. One person may be mentally and physically capable of tapping the keys on a mobile phone, another may not be able to see the keys on a touch screen to know what to tap. This same principle applies culturally; a certain culture or religion may not have access to or choose not to use technology such as tablets, smart phones, or computers. So how do we get all people access to products and services that allow them easier function throughout their day? Understanding the principles of Universal Design – to provide as many people as possible with a product solution that allows accessibility – I am able to consider designs that apply to as many cultures as possible. My research has developed in a cohesive manner in which I am able to be knowledgeable and interact with anyone around that world that I would be designing for. As I continue my professional practice, I will develop further understanding of different cultures as I develop different relationships and have more personal experiences.
As an entrepreneur in the medical and assistive device field, it is very important to understand the access and adaptation of different cultures to certain treatments and medicine. Thus far, my research covers how designers are helping to improve accessibility of some medical devices. My research on Health Inequality defines the reasoning behind why many cultures do or do not have quality access to medical care. Discussions, readings, and my semester research paper in contemporary perspectives have guided some of the considerations I am taking while forming the business model of my new start-up, Olive Devices. My research on health inequality also considered how designers are currently creating for under-served markets in developing countries and how we can continue to have more of an impact. My new start-up, Olive Devices, is a medical and assistive device company designing products that improve daily life for people with disabilities. My dream is to expand Olive Devices’ services around the world. I need to do further research on some of the cultures I may be targeting to directly understand what their needs are and the reasons specific groups don’t have access to sectors of healthcare. My research to find major opportunities to help many people with sensory deficiencies has found areas of need and redefined the products we can design to improve those needs. Inclusive Design creates products that fit as many people as possible and can be personalized or adjusted for specific needs. With improvements in technology such as 3D printing, it is much easier to make personalized products. However, in some rural parts of Southeast Asia or sub-Saharan Africa it is much more complex to get a large number of people to adopt technology.
Discussions on globalization within my global economy and contemporary perspectives courses have influenced how I view the future of my company in a global context and how we will adapt from the point we are currently at by utilizing globalization to scale. Already, through networking, I have found out that many start-ups are outsourcing a lot of technology and software development to countries such as India or manufacturing to China. These are some considerations that I need to make in the near future while also keeping in mind the priorities of my consumers. I have been exposed to the considerations and process of outsourcing work through design studio courses, study abroad in Italy, conferences that I have attended, and learning from my ergonomics/design professor who is an entrepreneur and outsources manufacturing to China. I have learned that these decisions will be based off industry, values, production costs, time and costs of delivery, and much more. Our design studio, since our second year, has encompassed a process that requires our design considerations to start at conceptualizing and continue through manufacturing and distribution. This experience within a hypothetical educational setting has helped prepare me for these important decisions as an entrepreneur especially within a globalizing economy.
Expanding my research to different locations, I have developed design thinking skills that taught me to apply concepts to certain cultures within these regions. Understanding how to apply design outside of my own persona, culture, and needs, further enables my ability to design properly for different people around the world. My portfolio exhibits background knowledge and skills I have developed to bring forward and apply to my professional life in a global context. For example, while taking an economics class, I applied newly gained knowledge about historical and current events with my design skills to balance form and function while considering manufacturing, sustainability, and world cultures. At this same time I was developing additional skills in a materials engineering course to understand the effect of our production process and material selection on the global environment. In the following years I have and will continue to expand my knowledge and skills by learning in real world, professional settings. Experience will help me to develop a sensitivity to create solutions for different cultures. Further understanding and consideration will be fulfilled once I have the opportunity to visit the cultures that I am assisting. Personal contact for direct context will define the considerations that I need to make to have more impact. Getting physical products in the hands of the users from the start to end of the design process will form the products and services to show sensitivity towards these cultures. Combining literature research and field research will help me to be a better designer and create products that have the most impact on people around the world with different abilities, apply products to different cultures, as well as different lifestyles.
Trucano, Michael. "10 Principles to Consider When Introducing ICTs into Remote, Low-income Educational Environments." Edutech. The World Bank, 08 July 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.