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Empathy Tool Kit Story

Published February 24, 2016

Many of the decisions made by interior designers rely on a deep understanding of how others will perceive, use, and navigate space.  Older adults and people with various physical differences often have trouble completing simple, everyday activities. It is important for interior designers to develop empathy for potential users. This type of empathy is at the heart of human-centered design.  Realizing the benefits of experiential learning, Assistant Professor Amy Huber, sought means and methods simulating a broad range of cognitive, sensory, and mobility, impairments.  Yet, what she found was very limited and costly. So she did what any designer would do, and designed one.

Following research of previous simulations, and multiple trips to the pharmacy and hardware store, Huber developed tasks that students could perform. Individual graphic task cards were designed for every simulation; each containing facts about the physical condition, a written and visual instruction about the simulation, and a question prompting reflection.

To share with design educators nationwide, she recently launched website where others can download the task cards along with an instructors resource booklet.  This allows educators to purchase and implement the activities for themselves.  The website also allows for feedback, stimulating dialogue and providing ideas for future simulations.

The website and free download can be found at