Design travel experience for people with mobility impairments.

An illustration of people with different mobility abilities navigating in the city
An illustration of people with different mobility abilities navigating in the city
Illustration by Raphaella Borges and Silvana Simiao via Behance

Most mobility impairments result from diagnosed medical conditions or aging. According to US Census Bureau in 2010, 30.6 million people aged 15+ have difficulty with ambulatory activities, including walking and climbing stairs. 3.6 million people use a wheelchair in their daily lives, while some others use assistive devices like canes and walkers.

People with mobility impairments, including wheelchair users, love exploring the world just as everyone does. According to Amadeus accessibility study, these travelers represent a $70 billion market just in Europe and the US.


However, travel is still causing stress for them and people who take care of them. Some give up traveling or choose destinations that are closer to home after terrible experiences. One of the participants in Project Sidewalk who has been taking care of her husband who is a quadriplegic for years said, Travel would just kind of be too stressed, too much stress for everybody.

This article is part of the weekly reflections for the class International UX and communication in my graduate program in HCDE at the University of Washington. Each week, we reflect on how understanding cultures help us design for global audiences.

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Source: https://www.iedunote.com/hofstedes-cultural-dimensions-theory

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions

This week we went through Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory and how it helps to inform our design decisions for audiences from different cultures. We had fun coming up with ideas of assisting people in a particular country on how to keep safe during the coronavirus crisis.

Hofstede’s theory provides a framework to analyze a culture or compare multiple cultures from dimensions like power distance, individualism, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and long term orientation. On Hofstede Insights website, it’s very easy and straightforward to see the value of each cultural indicator for a country (or compare up to four countries). …

Learnings and advices

With aging population growing worldwide, its impact on society has been addressed by more and more design initiatives. In 2015, Vines et al. discussed how negative stereotypes of aging prevail in society and the dominance of deficit-driven approaches to developing technology for older people in HCI communities. Older adults are referred to as a homogenous group. Technology is assumed to be the solution to expected aging problems.

In his article I wrote the book on user-friendly design. What I see today horrifies me, Don Norman describes how design fails older consumers by saying,

“Despite our increasing numbers, the world seems to be designed against the elderly… when companies do design things specifically for the elderly, they tend to be ugly devices that shout out to the world ‘I’m old and can’t function!’ …


Evie Cheng

UX researcher | MS HCDE at UW | LinkedIn: eviecheng

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