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Universal Design

Toshiba Group is promoting universal design (UD), in order to contribute to the realization of a society where everyone can live at ease and in comfort, regardless of age, gender and physical ability.

Medium- to Long-term Vision

By providing products and services that can satisfy diverse users, Toshiba will contribute to making more comfortable lifestyles and a safer society.

FY 2016 Achievements

  • Toshiba elevator for train station buildings won the IAUD Silver Award
  • Development of a real-time superimposition system using the universal design advisor system
  • Utilized RECAIUS™, Toshiba Communication AI that supports a variety of human activities
  • Started to provide 1KDK-5A, a home radio receiver for disaster prevention

Future Challenges and Approaches

Toshiba Group will further each employee's understanding of the concept of universal design, and will create UD products and services that incorporate user feedback and ideas. We will also promote UD in the workplace.

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Policy Related to Universal Design

To promote universal design throughout Toshiba Group, we have established our UD Principle, Vision and Guidelines.

  • Toshiba Group Universal Design Principle

    Toshiba Group creates valuable products for providing peace of mind and delight to each individual user.
    Toshiba Group contributes to achieving a society where everyone can live comfortably and enjoy peace of mind regardless of age, gender and abilities.

  • Toshiba Group Universal Design Vision

    Making the unusable usable, making the difficult easy.
    Toshiba's Universal Design makes products more user-friendly and safer.
    Our aim is to design attractive products that even more consumers will want to use, through innovation and constantly improving the ease of use and convenience of our products.

  • Image of universal design policy

    Toshiba Group Universal Design Guidelines

    • Design that conveys the product's ease of use
    • Simple and intuitive use
    • Minimize physical effort
    • Provide the same effectiveness for all users, regardless of the user or the user's environment or circumstances
    • Pursue safety and reduce users' psychological anxieties

    (The Guidelines consists of the above five main principles and 15 sub-principles.)

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Universal Design Promotion Structure

Toshiba Group incorporates UD principles into the development process through network of representatives from each business unit, and disseminates information about Toshiba's UD both inside and outside the Group.

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Universal Design Advisor System

Toshiba Group has a UD Advisor System in place, in which employees with disabilities and non-Japanese employees are invited to participate. Based on this system, registered employees can contribute to the development and evaluation of UD products, stepping beyond their own department.

Activity Example: Promoting the development of a real-time superimposition system

Toshiba Group is working with UD advisors with hearing impairments to develop a real-time superimposition system through the application of speech recognition technology. By converting speech in meetings and lectures to text in real time, we aim to provide easy access to captions any time to those who need them via their computers and tablets as well as projectors for the audience.

We gathered opinions about problems and needs regarding company meetings and other opportunities for information communication through a questionnaire for UD advisors and developed an initial prototype by focusing on the necessary functions. We then asked UD advisors to use the prototype in their routine job meetings, thereby making improvements based on information obtained from the advisors. We strive to create captions that are easier to read and to make the system easier to use. To that end, we enhance easy-to-use features that allow access to information when it is needed, improve the system configuration that enables users to use the system even in places where the network connection is unstable, and add tools that allow users to correct recognition errors easily. We are currently conducting in-house verification experiments with the aim of commercializing the system in the first half of FY2018.

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Development of Universal Design Products and Services

Toshiba develops products in areas as wide-ranging as public facilities, information equipment, consumer electronics, and home appliances. In doing so, we adopt a human-centered design process that emphasizes users' perspective, and incorporate as many customer needs as possible. For information about our initiatives and our products, please visit the Toshiba's Universal Design website.

Toshiba's Universal Design

Activity Example: Application of Toshiba communication AI RECAIUS™ to support people in various activities

Vocalization by Daisy Rings™Vocalization by Daisy Rings™

Toshiba's communication AI RECAIUS™ is a service that recognize words and people in sounds and images, interprets intentions and the situation, and communicates to users in an easy-to-understand way. Since it was started in 2015, this service has supported people's activities in a variety of situations.

Part of the service, the text-to-speech editor DaisyRings™, is a system that allows users to easily create vocalized* content by using speech synthesis for those who have difficulty in reading text due to visual impairments or dyslexia. DaisyRings is used mainly in schools and libraries. For example, in the Chiba Prefecture Seibu Library, DaisyRings is used to vocalize the cumulative catalogue of recorded books, various service guides, as well as brochures on lectures sponsored by the library and handout materials, thereby reducing the time and workload required for vocalization. Vocalized books are provided directly to library users and also made publicly available through the National Diet Library's data communication service.

*Vocalize: electronically convert text to speech

RECAIUS™ (Japanese)

Activity Example: Developing 1KDK-5A, a home radio receiver for disaster prevention

Home radio receiver for disaster prevention, 1KDK-5AHome radio receiver for disaster prevention, 1KDK-5A

Toshiba has newly developed a home radio receiver designed to receive broadcasts in homes, community centers, and other indoor places via the municipal administrative radio system for disaster prevention, which communicates evacuation and recovery information to community residents during a disaster.

The municipal administrative radio system for disaster prevention is used to deliver important life-saving information in an emergency as well as to communicate disaster prevention information in normal times. To realize a human-friendly design that supports lifestyles security, we examined how this system is used in disasters as well as in normal times and created a radio receiver that is easy for all people to install and use.

For example, we cooperated with the Japan Braille Library to examine the usage and arrangement of Braille letters and the amount of protrusion on the volume knob. We requested persons with visual impairments to evaluate our prototypes and reflected their opinions in the product design. Toshiba's home radio receiver for disaster prevention, 1KDK-5A, won a 2016 Good Design Award in a comprehensive design contest sponsored by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion.

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Promotion of Universal Design

Updating universal design guidelines

Toshiba Group provides rules and guidelines to enable diverse employees working for the group to effectively and efficiently develop universal design products based on a shared understanding. In FY2016, we updated comments and examples to explain these guidelines in detail and publicized the guidelines to employees via an intranet website.

Communication with outside organizations

To spread and promote the use of universal design, Toshiba Group provides information on its own initiatives and the results of its activities and also actively collaborates with outside companies and organizations.

Activity Example: Universal Design Networking Event for Students from Tsukuba University of Technology

Discussion at the networking eventDiscussion at the networking event

In September 2016, Toshiba held a networking event for 10 students from the National University Corporation Tsukuba University of Technology, an institution of higher learning for the hearing impaired and the visually impaired.

At the networking event, we introduced case studies of universal design initiatives, accounts of corporate life from hearing-impaired Toshiba Group employees, and so on. There was an active Q&A session, and we were thanked at the end by the participating students and their supervising teachers.

Activity Example: Elevator for train station buildings wins the IAUD Silver Award

Elevator for train station buildingsElevator for train station buildings

In these years, there is a growing need of reasonable consideration for disabled persons and more convenience for diverse users. Responding to complaints from wheelchair users that train station elevators are difficult to use, Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corporation developed an elevator for train station buildings based on universal design for public facilities.

The newly developed elevator won the Silver Award in the public space category of the IAUD Awards 2016 hosted by the International Association for Universal Design (IAUD). The product was highly evaluated for its user-oriented design, which was developed through repeated reviews conducted as part of joint research with Keio University Graduate School of System Design and Management to ensure ease of use as well as advanced functionality.

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