What’s in a name? Is it the same?

Pictograms of people and access symbolsWhich name or label to use when talking accessibility, universality and inclusion in design? Is it just semantics? Maybe. But they are intertwined and in the context of ICT and websites it might make a difference to some designers.

The question is addressed in an article on the Adobe Blog site. Matt May writes that “Accessibility is the goal to ensure that products support each individual user’s needs and preferences. Universal design is for everyone, literally, and inclusive design expands with your audience as new design ideas emerge. He cites the definition of inclusive design from the Inclusive Design Research Centre in Toronto:, “…design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference”. Isn’t this how universal design is explained? Better to accept that universal design is about diversity and therefore we can expect a diversity of explanations. As long as the aim is for social and economic inclusion for all then the meaning is in the doing and the outcomes.

It’s worth noting that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities uses the term “Universal Design” and interprets it as an iterative approach to achieving equity and inclusion. The Sustainable Development Goals have concepts of inclusion embedded and cite universal design.