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Bill Moggridge, cofounder of Ideo and director of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, has a suggestion for anyone designing a phone: "Put on a thick pair of gloves and try to operate the cell phone. If you can successfully do it with that thick pair of gloves on, it's probably going to work for the person whose hands don't work quite so well." Empathy isn't an obvious job requirement for a designer, but it will be at the heart of this biannual conference of universal-design advocates in London. And designing for the greatest number benefits those who might not think they need the extra help. Oxo's Good Grips line of kitchen tools, for instance, was made for arthritic hands, but who doesn't relish the tools' superhuman ease of use? Even so, you can't please all the people all the time. "Nobody designs for the tallest guy in the world," Moggridge says. "That poor person just has to duck."

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