Inclusive design means putting people in the center while designing for a product, tool or a service. Diversity is the beauty of people. Each individual is different from other. The differences could be in age, gender, ethnicity, educational background or even their individual abilities. Keeping the needs of these diverse groups and ensuring to meet them to the maximum extent possible is inclusive design.
Many needs of these user groups significantly overlap. For instance, people who have poor vision due to disability rely on better contrast of colors between the text and background. These contrasting colors also help people who have vision challenges due to aging. The alternate text description for non-text content such as images are helpful for not only those who rely on screen reading technology due to blindness, they also help those who access the product or website with low internet bandwidth. Thus inclusive design, universal design and design for all are interchangeable terms.
Why is inclusive design important to be learnt?
Everyone of us have biases, known or unknown. Because of these biases unknowingly we exclude certain personas while we design. The intentions of any designer will always be reaching to the widest possible users. The ignorance of designers that persons with disabilities or any other certain groups never use their product or most times they don’t even think of certain groups the designs exclude them.
Learning and implementing inclusive design practices remove the barriers for many people using the products. It also enhances the thinking capabilities of the designers by including wide range of user groups in the experiences they create and the problems they solve. Minimizing the biases and increasing the market reach are the biproducts of inclusive design. The main principle of inclusive design is to solve for one and extend for many.
Inclusive design is also about
- Flexible: Different users want to use a product in different ways.
- Convenient: Users want to use the product comfortably i.e. without much effort.
- Accommodative: Let users of different ages, geographic locations, gender, disabilities etc. use the product.
- Barrier free: ensuring the designs do not create barriers due to differing abilities.
What are the benefits of inclusive design?
Inclusive design is human centric and aims at reaching as many users as possible. On the journey the following benefits come along the way.
- Designing for the wider and never-ending human needs.
- Increase in reach due to additional users from the untapped market of persons with disabilities.
- Inclusive design solves many unanticipated user experience problems.
- Inclusive design brings innovative features to the product
- Inclusive design allows the individuals to be independent in using the features of the product.
Few more definitions of inclusive design
The British Standards Institute (2005) defines inclusive design as: ‘The design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible … without the need for special adaptation or specialized design.’
Inclusive design hub: “Inclusive Design is the design of an environment so that it can be accessed and used by as many people as possible, regardless of age, gender and disability.”