An Assessment of Understanding Universal Design Through Online Visual Resources and Role-playing Simulation Exercises

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Title: An Assessment of Understanding Universal Design Through Online Visual Resources and Role-playing Simulation Exercises
Author: Guimaraes, Marcelo Pinto
Advisors: James Tomlinson, Committee Member
Jane Steelman, Committee Member
Jason Swarts, Committee Member
Robin Moore, Committee Chair
Abstract: This study focuses on measurements of understanding about users negotiating problems with the built environment. An online photo-questionnaire was used in combination with a role-playing simulation of limited mobility and wayfinding. Among visual resources, online questions included a collection of photo montages to suggest an abstract reality about Universal Design concepts such as integrated user-friendly design features in contrast to mobility and wayfinding problems experienced by the participants. Expectations were that this online material could function in one of the following ways: - First, it could prepare participants by fostering reflective thinking about their own personal involvement with the Universal Design model; - Second, it could stimulate reflective thinking shortly after hands-on active thinking activities when added to the role-playing simulation exercise; - Third, it could be a combination of previous functions, creating a more receptive attitude about the upcoming exercise of simulating users' experience with disability and helping participants develop a broader and deeper understanding of the role of design for "user-friendly" environments. It seems experiential simulation did not corroborate reflective thinking through online resources. Most participants demonstrated greater understanding doing the online photoquestionnaire. However, some factors related to the concentration of people in one of the sample groups seemed to have affected the results. Previous experience with disability issues in addition to uneven representation of design fields and participants' dominant cognitive styles provided initial advantage for one of the sample groups. Those participants whose cognitive styles included concrete perception and active processing did not record any response after role-playing simulation that exceeded initial online response scores. Conclusive evidence suggests that, despite the influence of external factors, the subtle and underlying messages of online material when presented after role-playing simulation could generate more meaningful reflective thinking by progress towards gains in understanding through both interpretation and comprehension score levels.
Date: 2006-01-09
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Design

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