Inclusive Design Canvas

Many designers know about universal design but don’t yet know what makes a design inclusive and accessible. Two researchers from the Inclusive Design Team in Cambridge embarked on a study to find out how to address this issue. They came up with the Inclusive Design Canvas.

A button link to the Inclusive Design Canvas. Its says, Embrace empathy and get new ideas with the inclusive design canvas.

Guaranteeing inclusive environments for all is a fundamental step towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. The Inclusive Design Canvas is designed to help architects to engage in co-design processes and assess their designs for inclusivity.

The image is from Zallio’s IDEA Toolbox

The key question is, “How is it possible to educate architecture design professionals to reduce points of exclusion for building occupants?” With this in mind, the researchers set out to address the mismatch between design, construction and delivery of a building to meet the principles of inclusion. In short, what resources do architects need to embed inclusive design in the design process?

The researchers ran two workshops with architectural design professionals, many of whom are overloaded with guides and regulations. Consequently, the idea of another design tool was met with ambivalence. But continuing professional development is required and this encouraged participation. This is another case where co-design can educate users while finding out what their issues are.

The title of the article is, The Inclusive Design Canvas. A Strategic Design Template for Architectural Design Professionals. The authors explain the process and the outcomes that lead to the design tool. The key point is that inclusion needs to be embedded within the design process, not left until the end. It also needs to be incorporated into design software. The researchers hope to populate the tool with good examples in the future.

From the abstract

Designing accessible and inclusive buildings is essential if they are to provide enjoyable and inspiring experiences for all their occupants. Many architectural design professionals have a lack of awareness of the aspects to consider when designing. This is limiting the uptake of inclusive design.

This study involved expert stakeholders and provides evidence for the demand to create an Inclusive Design Canvas. This is a design template for building industry professionals to help them embed inclusive design in the design process.

See also Inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in the built environment: A study of architectural design practice (Zallio and Clarkson, 2021)

There is a technical report that supports the development of the Inclusive Design Canvas. It’s titled, A validation study on the challenges that architectural practitioners face when designing inclusively.