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Escola de Arquitetura

Universidade Federal

Minas Gerais

Rua Paraiba 697
sl 125

Belo Horizonte


(5531) 3409 8810



The link between affordance and universal design

Ofertas de acolhimento (hosting offers) are defined here as a translation into Portuguese of the English term "affordance" by psychologist and researcher of human cognition, James J. Gibson (Theory of Affordances, 1977).

According to Gibson, an affordance refer to the characteristics of the environmental elements that direct attention to the human action in potential, i.e. a potential function of these elements utility as tools, furniture or equipment for task activities. Gibson believes that the physical environment provides an interaction bond with people through affordances. A stone, for its size and shape can serve as a bank or a trampoline. Certainly, the use shall be fixed by the person who will recognize the "hosting offers" of the stone. However, independent of cultural variations, given the needs and the context of use, the hosting offers will be adopted by people in different countries and around the world.

Donald Norman in 1988 referred to the affordances to distinguish between hosting offers that exist naturally in the physical environment and those which are defined in product design. For Norman, designers define operational and functional aspects of their products in order to supply a conceptual expectation of utility by products users. The hosting design offers are a linguistic structure of interaction between natural or artificial physical environment and its user.

Transposing this discussion to the universal design, we can see that the principle of intuitive use is linked directly to design affordances such a universal design example should clearly express its potential usefulness and no registration required on procedures for operating modes or the justification of its necessity.

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