The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has an exhibition and website showcasing design done for people who don’t have money, power outlets or even running water. As a designer, I have often worked on projects aimed at the 10% that do have all those things and more (although, ironically, some of those projects were items such as travel brochures for expeditions to places like Mongolia where you can get away from all those trappings of wealth whenever you get sick of them). While one often pays at least some attention on usability and impairment issues, the reality is that most of the focus is on creating something cool, unique and that gets away – as much as possible – with using the latest and greatest.
I have found, however, that accomodating design (i.e. the equivalent of curb-cuts in sidewalks) makes it easier for all audiences to use a product or a site. Many of the items you’ll see on this site look like they’d be useful even in a first-world environment. It makes you think about how many design resources are wasted because they’re aimed at a narrow, mostly wealthy audience. “But hey, the beautiful finish on that Apple flat-panel display really makes it run better.”