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17 July 2006 PR 06/85

New designs for life

A redesign of jobs, workplaces and everyday products is essential if ageing and disabled people are to extend their active and working lives, according to Loughborough University.

In October, experts from Loughborough will join forces with the Engineering Design Centre and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge and the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre at the Royal College of Art, along with 11 other organisations, to look at ways of persuading designers to consider the needs of older and disabled people.

The four-year project is a response to calls for a more ‘inclusive’ society, which takes into account a growing, ageing population. It is hoped that, by helping older and disabled people to work for longer and remain independent, it may reduce spiralling welfare and pension costs.

John Richardson, of Loughborough University’s Ergonomics and Safety Research Institute, said: “Unprecedented population ageing poses a serious social and economic challenge across the developed world, calling for radical and imaginative responses from Government and industry.

“To meet this challenge, one of the things we need to do is to redesign workplaces and jobs to suit the changing profile of the working population. There is also a global market for products and services designed with older and less able people in mind.”

The project will look at ways of helping designers to understand the needs of older and disabled people; give a better idea of the ways in which these people are currently excluded, for instance by new technology; and use information about excluded groups more effectively when designing new workplaces and healthcare systems.

It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and builds upon the work of earlier ‘inclusive design’ projects.


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Notes to editors

  1. Partners in the project include University of Cambridge, Royal College of Art, Help the Aged, Scope, the Royal Society of Arts, The Design Council, Charnwood U3A, Scientific Generics Ltd, Tangerine Product Development, Design Business Association, Sprout Design, James Roberts Design, and the College of Occupational Therapists.

  2. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

    In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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