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Meet real people who represent a range of capability

In this section you can meet ten real people drawn from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design’s user network. They are not fictional characters – they are real individuals with differing degrees of functional loss across the spectrum of capability. They speak about their lives, their challenges, their relationship with design and the impact that poor design has on them.

Their stories demonstrate that when designers engage directly with real people then there is a richness of information that cannot be obtained through more indirect design research methods alone, valuable though these can be.






The ten people featured here were selected in partnership with the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre under five categories – vision, hearing, mobility, dexterity and cognition – to represent a spectrum of capability across the UK population.

Each participant was asked to complete two questionnaires: the first relating to capability (download PDF) and the second relating to lifestyle (download PDF). They were then interviewed and their responses enhanced with details that the participants felt were important for designers to understand.

This approach seeks to give the designer a more holistic portrait of the individual than can be supplied by reading capability data alone.

For each category, case studies drawn from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design’s portfolio provide further evidence of how people’s needs and aspirations related to vision, hearing, mobility, dexterity and cognition can directly inspire better, more inclusive design.