Designing for disability: Guidance for designers when working with users with Specific, Critical, Additional Needs (SCAN)

  • Wesley Scott

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study provides guidelines to help designers make reasoned methodological choices when working with those that have disabilities, in order to enable the effective interpretation of the views of these users and to ensure that these are taken into account in the design of products and services. A new way of categorising such users led to a definition by the researcher of Specific, Critical, Additional Needs (SCAN). Individuals with SCAN have additional needs that have to be met in order to maintain their quality of life, health, safety and wellbeing but are additional to those of everyday critical needs. Following an extensive review of models of disability and design, together with the legal and social contexts (including public attitudes to disability), as well as resources from the design and ergonomics communities and existing research methods available to designers when working with SCAN users, it was found that there were relatively few studies that examined the appropriateness of methods for understanding the requirements of these users in design and evaluation processes. Through focus groups, advice was gathered from designers, some of whom were experienced in working collaboratively with disabled persons. Following this, several semi-structured interviews took place with a representative sample of SCAN users, carers, support workers, health and social care professionals and family members. Analysis of these interviews, backed by evidence from the literature, led to the creation of guidelines. The guidelines take account of best practice in designing from a user-centred viewpoint, and a number of tried and tested research methods are reviewed in detail. The study also highlights the range of disabilities that should be considered by designers in shaping specifications for new products and services, and the need to treat users appropriately to ensure an accurate account is taken of their needs.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorDavid Durling (Supervisor), Andree Woodcock (Supervisor) & Deana McDonagh (Supervisor)


  • Disability and design
  • Erganomics
  • User-centred design

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