Embed inclusive design to reach a wider audience

People in meeting

Written by Raphael Clegg-Vinell, Accessibility and Disability Consultant, AbilityNet

Often apps and websites – even those run by large companies – do not adhere to inclusive design principles and end up excluding many thousands of potential customers.

At the London Chapter of the Interaction Design Association’s (IxDA) World Interaction Design Day last month, I wanted to get the point across that inclusive design is a different concept to accessibility.

We find that clients often come to us late in the development of a site or app and we can make small tweaks to make sure they adhere to accessibility guidelines. We will look at how they can make things technically accessible for people who are blind or deaf for example.

What is inclusive design?

But with inclusive design, from very early on, you’re looking at how you can design for as many people as possible. Inclusive design is about accepting you can’t design something which works for absolutely everyone, but looking at your audience as a whole. We don’t mean just for apps and websites, but for services too such as checkouts, for example.

An obvious point might be to not have lots of buttons very near to each other on a screen. If someone struggles with dexterity for whatever reason, buttons presented in this way might be an issue. The person could have a disability, less mobility with old age, but perhaps even long fingernails which reduce their dexterity. It makes sense to put more space between buttons and therefore design for a much wider number of people.

Using inclusive design principles

I was joined by Dr Madeleine Pritchard, a research fellow and speech and language therapist at City, University of London. Together we challenged participants at the event co-run by Adobe and the London chapter of the Interaction Design Association ( IxDA) to redesign an app using inclusive design principles.

The IxDA has over 200 local groups globally and over 100,000 individuals. It brings together interaction designers and people interested in the discipline from all sorts of different job roles.

We presented some of the key differences between accessibility and inclusive design and progressed to look more specifically at cognitive disabilities and accessibility. Cognitive disabilities and accessibility is something that’s often overlooked. We explored the subject and participants were given exercises to demonstrate what happens when each of us comes into contact with interfaces, particularly when they’re complex and busy.

Workshop attendees were then given a design challenge focusing on re-designing an app to benefit people in a range of environments and with different access needs.

The day was a great success. Positively, inclusion and diversity in design has been gaining lots of traction recently and many companies are starting to realise the benefits it brings to their business and brand.

Originally posted here 


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