The assumption that designing for everyone will cost more often goes unchallenged. Even economic arguments for business benefits rarely cut through because of this. If economic arguments for inclusion worked we wouldn’t still be talking abut it.A Centre for Inclusive Design report analyses inclusive business practice and covers some areas not covered before. The report analyses education, retail and financial services and argues inclusive design can drive financial, economic and social improvements. PwC was commissioned for the report, The Benefit of Designing for Everyone.
Jeremy Thorpe from PwC says, “Inclusive design is a no-regrets process that creates significant benefits which are currently being left on the table. It is an overlooked step in maximising the potential of Australian business and ensuring a more productive Australia.” There is also an infographic with the key information, and a summary report and a Word version.
The report analyses three key industries in Australia: education, retail and financial services. Each one can benefit from taking a universal design approach to improve their bottom line.
David Masters, Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft Australia, said,
“Accessibility is often focused on compliance, and while that is incredibly important, this report clearly shows that inclusion drives economic benefit too. Embedding inclusion in the upfront design phase ensures organisations are delivering products and services for everyone. Inclusive design is driving innovation at Microsoft and is a concept that all organisations should be embracing.”
It is good to see more work being done on the economics of inclusion. However, such arguments over the last ten years have yet to make their mark. The inclusive tourism industry is testament to that as well as the housing industry. Let’s hope someone is listening and willing to act.
Anyone buying or selling online wants the best possible view of the product. Buyers want to see relevant size and shape and key information. Sellers want the maximum number of sales. Making visual information clear, and easy to read and understand is key. Coles supermarkets has devised an image guide for suppliers to make products more readily recognised. So viewing products online with Coles should get easier for everyone. eBay sellers should also note.
The Coles guide is based on work carried out some years ago by the Inclusion Design Group at Cambridge University. This work is updated as they continue their research. The Coles guide is easy to read and gives instructions about images that suppliers should send them. These instructions are good for anyone who has a product or merchandise to sell.
The guide covers the use of 2D and 3D images, out of pack images and lifestyle images. The Coles website will feature a first image with the brand with the option for further images with a click. This gives the opportunity to see front, back, left and right side of the product.
The Design for Dignity guidelines cover all the elements in a major urban renewal project. The guide is based on the principles applied in the development of Barangaroo South in Sydney. It covers public domain, wayfinding, commercial and retail precincts, and workplaces. Stakeholder engagement is also covered. The pictures clearly explain the do’s and don’ts and why the details matter. The guide is comprehensive and easy to read, and has a list of resources at the end.
There are two case studies from Barangaroo South. The public domain case study is about the process of consulting with disability stakeholders. The second case study is about achieving dignified access in a mixed commercial space. This is an excellent resource for interior designers as well as urban planners. The details explain why going beyond access standards is important.
Are marketing people missing out on a buying power of people with disability? The answer is likely, yes. A Nielsen Report on consumers with disability, including older people, states what is obvious to anyone interested in universal design and inclusion. “Disabilities span across age, race, and gender so there is reason to believe consumers with disabilities should not differ much from the general population.” So what is the buying power of people with disability?
The report, Reaching Prevalent, Diverse Consumers with Disabilitiesfound that one in four households of their sample group of 86,000 people had one or more person with a disability. That’s an important statistic because consumers with disability are higher spenders in some categories. That’s despite tending to have lower incomes.
Marketing and advertising people will find insights into disability and their significance in this report. For example, consumers with disability are more likely to have a pet. So they are more likely to buy pet food and related products.
Marketing departments influence what is designed – it’s their job to find out what to sell. If marketing professionals dismiss people with disability, their company will too. An inclusive marketing approach helps the cause of inclusion albeit with a profit focus.
This report is also featured on the Silver Blogwhich is focused on marketing to older people. There is another item on the dangers of marketing specifically to older adults as this borders on ageism. Older people want brands to focus on needs and interests, not their age.
Time to challenge the entrenched marketing theory of market segmentation by age. It follows mindless formulas and plays into stereotypes about older people as needy and helpless. It also perpetuates these stereotypes. An article in FastCo highlights why sectioning out older people leads to negative representations. Or worse, they patronise.
The title of the article is, Why marketing to seniors is so terrible. It’s based on research by various marketing companies. Online purchasing by over 55s has increased significantly and cuts across stereotypes of older people being tech-averse. Here are two excerpts from the article:
THE ONE UNIVERSAL TRUTH ABOUT AGING The most surprising finding Tuma and her team discovered was when they asked people to envision an aging utopia–and an aging dystopia. In every single country surveyed, the utopia had generations living together in harmony, learning from each other, and helping one another other. The dystopia, conversely, strictly segregated young and old. Which one do we see most in advertising today?
When was the last time you saw anyone over 55 in a decent ad? The world of oldsvertising is a hellscape full of reverse mortgages, erectile dysfunction pills, and bathtubs that won’t kill you. The video below is an example of a bathtub advert.
Time to focus on attitudes, not age. No more patronising pictures of older hands, thank you – real life please. We are all ageing and we are all individuals
Universal design is a design thinking process so a universal design standard is a contradiction in terms. Standards are fixed where universal design is a continuous improvement process. However, where designers cannot grasp the concept of an inclusive thinking process, a set of design directions is needed. Hence a new European universal design standard for products, goods and services.
The standard sets out requirements and recommendations for extending the customer base for products and services. It’s for organisations that design and manufacture products and/or provide services. The aim is to ensure products and services are available to the widest range of users possible.
Diverse user needs, characteristics, capabilities and preferences area all covered. It is based on processes of user involvement and building on accessibility knowledge. The standard can also be used for complying with legislation and to advance corporate social responsibility.
The standard was developed by Ireland’s National Disability Authority that houses the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. The document has the title “design for all” which is a recognised European term, but notes that universal design, barrier-free-design and transgenerational design are the same thing.
Many businesses would like to expand their customer base to include older people and people with disability, but not sure how to do it. Utilising a checklist is one way to start thinking about it. Several organisations have produced checklists and other information to help businesses understand what they can do. Much of it costs little or nothing. Here are just three.
COTA TAS has a checklistthat has a rating scale from excellent to needs work. It covers external environments, shop entrances, safety, comfort, and staff training, and much more. It’s nine pages and easy to read.
AgeUK has a more comprehensive document that provides the reasoning behind some of the “Top Tips’. These include telephone interactions, websites, and resolving complaints. Toilets, seating and other physical factors are also included. This is a report based on consumer workshops.
Of course being age-friendly means being friendly to all ages. Many of the suggestions are compatible with the needs of people with disability as well. The NSW Business Chamber has produced a guide for small business based on improving accessibility for everyone. However, this short online guide is not easy to read with small text and lots of graphics. It was based on the original Missed Business? by Marrickville Council and the Australian Human Rights Commission. It is also useful for local government authorities.
We all like to get our message across. Communication access is just as important as physical access. So what are the communication barriers that some people face? It might be reading, understanding spoken language or having difficulties speaking. So the way that signs and written communication are designed are as important as well-trained staff.
Camp Manyung has been a leader in inclusive youth camp facilities and activities. Now they have increased their level of inclusiveness by gaining communication accreditation from SCOPE. Reception staff and activity staff can now communicate with everyone throughout the camp experience. Staff wear the international communication symbol so that they are easily recognised by visitors.
Communicating effectively with customers is essential for any business or government service. And right now, online communication is taking centre stage.
The new guide for Online Meeting Accessibility is a supplement to theCustomer Communications Toolkit for Public Service. It takes you through the steps of planning and conducting an online meeting, and following up afterwards. The focus is on accessibility and inclusion with many helpful tips.
Are your online meetings inclusive? Or did you get caught up in a middle class meeting culture? An article from The Commonsdiscusses this and the need to consider the wellbeing of the group while trying to get through every agenda item. The article lists some key phrases that indicate you might be driving the meeting to hard and fast. For example, “As you can see, we’re packing a lot in today”, and ” We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the time”. Phrases like these indicate you might be on Middle Class Standard Time says Andrew Willis Garcés.
Garcés discusses middle class values in the context of the business meeting. Workaholism, formal relationships, focus on task above all else, hierarchy and conflict avoidance. He goes on to look at the consequences of the Middle Class Standard Time and ways to avoid them. Other resources include, Leading Groups Online.
A really insightful piece that can help us to recognise our biases and improve our online meetings. Easy read.