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Case Studies on Universal Design

Sponsor: US Department of Education

PI: Jim Mueller

Period: 09/01/1999 through 08/31/2004

From 1994 -1997, James Mueller directed a project for the Center for Universal Design funded by the US Department of Education. This project, Case Studies on Universal Design, explored how the US business community applies the Principles of Universal Design (Center for Universal Design, 1997) to its business practices.

Thirty-eight individual business applications of universal design were studied through this project. Fourteen of these examples were developed into business case studies and published as the Case Studies on Universal Design in 1997. One of these was fully developed into a business teaching case in 1997 through Design Management Institute and Harvard Business School and is distributed worldwide by Harvard Business Publishing.

In 1999, the Center for Universal Design embarked on a 5-year program to further study companies efforts toward applying universal design in their businesses. Companies studied in the previous project were revisited, as well as 14 companies not previously studied. Each case study tells a unique story of why and how a business integrated the concept of universal design into its customer products and services. Collectively, they illustrate the roles of personal commitment, corporate culture, legislation, management support, and market forces in making universal design integral to effective business strategy.

The following eleven case studies include eight case studies completed between 2000-2003, as well as three 1997 case studies updated with recent developments in the companies' universal design efforts:

Case Studies                               
Fiskars Develops Its Softouch
Oxo International Becomes a Universal Design Icon
Beyond the Tupperware Party: Reaching New Generations of Customers

LidsOff Adds to Ergo Approach
Amtrak Acela Express Accommodates All
Duracell Listens to Its Customers
Florian: Gardening for All Ages and Abilities
Ford Drives a Mile in an Older Person's Suit
Gold Violin: Marketing to Seniors with Style
Nokia Helps Lead IT Industry to Customers with Disabilities
Philips Interactive Healthcare Services: Putting the Patient in Charge
Toys R Us: Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids

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