What is the meaning of inclusion in inclusive technology?

Line drawing of jon and kat. They re both wearing jackets and scarves around their necks. A very interesting conversation between a WordPress designer and an advisor to Automattic where they discuss inclusion and how people understand the concepts of inclusive design in different ways. They claim that a diverse team does not necessarily mean that diversity will be reflected in designs – it is a company-wide culture change that is needed. “Success is when inclusive design is the default way to design any aspect of society.” The conversation is between John Maeda of WordPress, and Kat Holmes the advisor to Automattic. Nicely written, large text, lots of good points and tips, and easy to read with extra links at the end of the article.  


Inclusive design is more than a checklist

A desk with a large sheet of paper and pink post it notes. A person stands with their hand resting on the table.“Truly inclusive designs are never really finished, and becoming fluent in inclusive design takes more than a checklist. We all need a map when we start exploring any new world, …” This is the introduction to a “guidance map” aimed at leading individuals and teams through the processes of creating inclusive thinking and practice. Although focused on technology, some of the principles and processes can be applied in most situations. For example, “Learn about your audiences; their motivations, needs, behaviors, challenges, pain points and goals”. The key headings in this article on Design.blog are: Broadening perspectives and building empathy; Bringing diversity into teams and processes; and Building inclusion into designs.  


Altering design mindsets about people with dementia

Close up of an older man and woman with their heads together dancing. He is wearing a hat and cravat, and she is wearing a red flower in her hair. They look loving.Until recently it was thought that a diagnosis of dementia meant staying home and being cared for. Those who work in the area of dementia are doing their best to change this view in the general population. But is the design community prepared to embrace people living with dementia? In Breaking Well-Formed Opinions and Mindsets by Designing with People Living with Dementia, researchers report on a range of disruptive design interventions to break the cycle of well-formed opinions and mindsets. Co-designed interventions have resulted in providing ways for people with dementia to continue contributing to society and have fulfilling lives. The abstract explains more.

Abstract: This paper presents ongoing research that highlights how design thinking and acting can contribute significantly to breaking down preconceived ideas about what people living with dementia are capable of doing. The research, undertaken in collaboration with Alzheimer Scotland and other dementia organisations across the UK, has adopted a range of disruptive design interventions to break the cycle of well-formed opinions, strategies, mindsets and ways-of-doing that tend to remain unchallenged in the health and social care of people living with dementia. The research has resulted in a number of co-designed interventions that help change the perception of dementia by showing that people living with dementia can offer much to UK society after diagnosis. Moreover, it is envisaged that the co-designed activities and interventions presented here will help reconnect people recently diagnosed with dementia to help build their self-esteem, identity and dignity and help keep the person with dementia connected to their community, thus delaying the need for formal support and avoid the need for crisis responses. The paper reports on three design interventions where the authors have worked collaboratively with nearly 200 people diagnosed with dementia across the UK in co-design and development activities. The paper concludes with a number of innovative recommendations for researchers when co-designing with people living with dementia.

Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology
CWUAAT 2018: Breaking Down Barriers pp 251-262


Design principles to live and die by

A text box with a grey background and white text with the heading: 8 Design Principles to Live and Die By, According to Facebook, IBM, Pentagram and MoreThe Fastcodesign website has another interesting article about design. Every designer has the principles they work by.  So they asked eight prominent designers who were either judges of or honored in the 2017 Innovation By Design Awards: “What is the one principle you never compromise on?” The answers are consistent with universal design principles: Good design is both invisible and obvious; Ignore trends; Ban mediocrity, Design to elicit emotion; Articulate your purpose, honestly and explicitly; Users are people not statistics; Design thinking isn’t for designers and; Design for the big idea. See the article for the designers’ explanations.

An abstract pattern of muted blue and orange squares of different sizes.



Diversity for Designers

front page of the website designing with people. It has four boxes: People, Actvities, Methods, and Ethics. A click on each will take you to another section of the websiteIf you are not entirely sure what designing for diversity means, there are ten people ready to help get you started. Their stories are on a website hosted by the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Designing with People.org. Ten people were selected under five categories – vision, hearing, mobility, dexterity and cognition – to represent a spectrum of capability across the UK population. Each person filled out two questionnaires. One was about capability and the other about lifestyle. While these ten stories cannot replace full user consultation, they can give an excellent insight into the issues each one faces on a daily basis.

Clicking on the first person in the list we find that Pandora has macular degeneration. She lists what she can do and what she cannot do. This is followed by her occupation, a typical day, how designs improve her life, lessons for designers and the five most important things in her life. Her key message for designers is, “If I was approached by a designer and asked which areas of my life could be improved, I would hope that the designer would listen to me but not design for a specific group as if it’s somehow our fault”. The other nine follow the same format. An excellent resource.

This project and website was developed jointly by the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Engineering Design Centre, The Well-being Institute, and Loughborough Design School.


Say it, write it, and post it with universal design

Front cover of the toolkit with three overlapping circles, bright pink, purple and turquoise.The Customer Communications Toolkit for the Public Service – A Universal Design Approach has sections on written, verbal and digital communication. At 134 pages it is comprehensive. Each section has examples, tips, checklists and links to learn more. The intention of the toolkit is for public service planning, training and informing contractors. But of course, it works for anyone who is communicating with the public. The toolkit follows its own advice in presenting this written information in a straightforward way. Lots of graphics illustrate key points, and the information is very specific, such as when to write numbers as digits or as words. While some of the information might not be new to some, it serves as a good reviser of current practice.

Another great resource from Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. Interesting to note that they have chosen colours for the cover and their logo that almost everyone can see – that includes people with colour vision deficiency.


Through a lens for inclusion

A magnifying glass is held over a grid montage of human facesEveryone has a bias. Recognising biases in your outlook is the key to countering them in the design process. Airbnb Design partnered with journalists from News Deeply and came up with a toolkit for designers. Another Lens is a research tool for conscientious creatives. “We believe that both designers and journalists have the responsibility to shine a light on their bias by asking the right questions, seeking conflicting viewpoints, and expanding their lens to build inclusive, global solutions”.  Three principles underpin the thinking process: balance your bias, consider the opposite and embrace a growth mindset. All good principles for universal design thinking. The website tool is simple to use and poses critical questions and provides the thinking behind it. You can find out more on the development of this tool from the Fastcodesign website article.

Editor’s note: I sense a reflection of Edward de Bono in this toolkit – good to see the skill of lateral thinking presented in a digital format.


Pay Pal Design Principles

Blue PayPal logoPay Pal has four simple design principles that could be duplicated in any setting, but particularly in the digital world. Interestingly their principles statement uses the first person pronoun, we, which indicates ownership of the action. They are: 

  1. We Craft  We obsess over every pixel. Every word. Every experience. We make big changes in tiny spaces and small tweaks to global ideas. We won’t release anything we’re not proud of. Because focusing on the details lets us build something truly memorable.
  2. We Simplify  Building something simple is anything but. So, we’re honest about our impact on people’s lives. We respect their time and spend every waking moment of our day making things simpler. Because simple is loved, needed, used and shared. 
  3. We Connect We create opportunity by connecting people to each other. That’s a powerful concept–coming up with ways to connect and further interconnect our world anyway we can. It’s an awesome challenge, too. One we dive into headfirst every day.
  4. We Go All In  We invent, then reinvent. Design, then redesign. Yes, we butt heads sometimes, but only because we’re fighting for the people that depend on us. Our customers need us to do the best work of our lives so that they can do the best work of theirs.

Note: PayPal is part of Ebay so they share the same principles.


Design for Humans

picture shows a man and woman wearing white hard hats. the white text on red background says The go to guide for designing and building and developing in AucklandAuckland is one of the most liveable cities in the world and it is about to get better with universal design. The Auckland Design Manual and the accompanying Universal Design Tools puts people at the centre of the design. The OurAukland website says, “All people will have some kind of universal design moment in their lives where they find themselves potentially disadvantaged by their environment.” This is the basis of all design thinking in this excellent manual. Case studies, tools for planners and designers, and other resources are all included in this extensive free to download guide.

Auckland Design Manual logoEditor’s note: The progress made by Auckland City has been made possible by having a universal design expert on staff to educate and advise on a daily basis. Every local council should have such a person.