Design for inclusive attitudes

The biggest stumbling block to inclusion is the prevalent attitudes in society. Many of these rest in stereotypes about people who look or sound different to ourselves. Attitudes are also founded on myths and misinformation. So can we design for inclusive attitudes? According to a conference paper the answer is, yes, we can.

Many coloured heart shapes with black eyes and smiles indicate diversity. Telling stories for inclusion.

There is a gap between the concept of universal design and creating inclusive attitudes in society. Creating inclusive things does not necessarily create inclusive attitudes.

The paper looks as if it was translated from another language making this difficult to understand. However, the underlying premise brings the concept of universal design into the 21st Century. That is, moving from designing inclusive things, to addressing societal attitudes to inclusion.

The paper discusses a theoretical framework in the traditional academic manner. Part of the discussion is about how Inclusive Design, Design-for-All and Universal Design are not specific in how they promote inclusive attitudes. The emphasis is on products and not on intangible contents such as attitudes and behaviours. The authors argue that designers can use existing paradigms, and at the same time challenge them to focus on equity and quality of life.

A framework

A synergy between design culture and the Inclusive Attitude concept is needed. The framework suggests transitions from Design for Inclusion, to Design for Inclusive Attitude. Thereby moving from inclusive approaches to design, to designing for Inclusive Attitude. And further, moving from inclusive things to conceiving things that foster inclusive societal attitudes. The diagram below, which is taken from the article, shows the transitions.

Chart showing the theoretical framework of the transition from universal design to inclusive attitudes.
Design for Inclusive Attitude framework cited in the conference paper.

The authors pose the argument that there is a new generation of citizens and activities that don’t define themselves as designers. Rather, they apply their skills and efforts in the direction of social inclusion. This takes the discussion into the field of co-design although this term is not used.

Graphic with four circles: one each for exclusion, separation, integration and inclusion.

The authors conclude the aim is to create designers with inclusive attitudes, who create inclusive things, and at the same time, create inclusive societal attitudes.

The title of the paper is, Design for Inclusive Attitude: towards a theoretical framework. It is open access. The paper is in the proceedings of the AHFE International Conference, 2022 where you will find like-minded papers.

Editor’s comment: The paper takes a philosophical approach in trying to link inclusive design concepts to inclusive society attitudes. With so many new papers still reaching back to the 1997 principles of universal design, this is a refreshing change.

From the abstract

The Inclusive Attitude is a concept mainly debated in psychology, sociology, anthropology and it has received less attention from a design research perspective.

This paper proposes a theoretical framework for using Design for Inclusion to support Inclusive Attitude among the society. Starting from literature review, the paper compares the Inclusive Attitude concept with orders of design, design contents, design domains, continuum of design approaches, and domains of disciplines of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE). As a result, a conceptual framework is identified for studying the Design for Inclusive Attitude.

Accessibility Toolbar