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Universal design tackles little things with big impact

EAST LANSING, Mich. An international packaging conference this month will explore how little things can become major obstacles.

Like a childproof cap.

Michigan State University's School of Packaging is organizing Universal Package '06 a look at design and packaging and how it regards or disregards a range of abilities, behaviors, habits and sizes. The conference will be June 19-22 at MSU's Henry Center for Executive Development.

"Universal design is about considering the entire spectrum of humanity and trying to design as inclusively as possible," said Laura Bix, assistant professor of packaging. "The design focus has traditionally been on the product, on protecting and preserving the product, and I think it's time the consumer gets a seat at the table. I think we can do a better job."

The conference brings speakers from industry, other universities and consumer groups, examining topics such as package usability testing, biomechanics, aging awareness, consumer trends and "how do you create packaging that delights?"

Opening night, Jim MacLaren, a nationally known motivational speaker and recipient of the 2005 Arthur Ashe Courage Award, will talk about the obstacles that packaging can present. His talk will be open to the public.

Bix, whose research focuses on pharmaceutical and medical packaging, probes how not being able to have access to common products affects lifestyle. Javier de Lafuente, a doctoral student in her lab, is studying how to apply universal design to childproof packaging.

"Universal design principle is about equal security," Bix said. "Why should the disabled have less safe packages than I do? Is it an easy answer? No, but we can think creatively and do more."


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Contact: Laura Bix
bixlaura@msu.edu
517-355-4556
Michigan State University
9-Jun-2006


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