1 Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
2 Atala Spa (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 2348-2355
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The aim of this abstract is to present briefly a learning process in a Product Design thesis of Design school of Polytechnic University of Milan concerning the development of a vehicle for disabled children. The presented work is result of a University-Industry cooperation in a particular area of Product Design field: Inclusive Design and Design for Disability.
The role of industrial designer is to mediated between user needs and industry needs [T. Maldonado 1993]. People using industrial products need different solution also in different conditions, and often, people don't know the best solution for their needs.

In order to reach real need of special users, a User Centred Design (UCD) approach [Norman 1998] could be desirable, specially when users have particular needs. Special needs of impaired people and disable population are hardly understandable, and a deep knowledge of each disability is necessary beside direct user involvement. Using official classification [Palisano et al. 1997; WHO 2001] it is possible to focalize the work, but, in any case, each person with disability is a particular case.
The present thesis project is referred to a bike for children with Cerebral Palsy (CP). CP is a non-progressive lesion of the developing of central nervous system [Bax 1964], due to a brain injury before birth, during birth or immediately after birth. CP is the most important cause of disability in childhood. Compared with the other children, those with CP have lower muscle strength, a muscular hypertonia, decreased range of motion, posture and motor control alterations and changes in gait. These are the reasons why it is important to propose them a regular physical activity, such as cycling, to improve their health condition [Damiano et al. 2007]. Different studies sustain the importance of physical activity, and suggest cycling as a rehabilitation tool to improve strength and cardiorespiratory fitness [Fowler et al. 2007].

After the individuation of the users’ needs and capabilities, the research has been focused on the aids for impaired people, specially bikes. This research process has been finalized to understand the relation between child and bike and to emphasize the main characteristics of these products.
In this situation of special “consumers”, Companies need to apply special strategies of production and commercialization, and designers need to have specific skills. Need to be self confident in User Research and User Engagement, Anthropometry and Biomechanics, well prepared on small scale production technology. Designer must be able to produce adaptable solutions, but at the same time, they need to be able to conceptualize inclusive products. Products with “normal” and pleasurable external shape.

The paper will present learning process in the relationship between student, university tutor and industrial supervisor for development of a new product applying UCD methods.
Learning process, university-industry cooperation, Inclusive Design, Cerebral Palsy.