Jun 8, 2021
In this article Tommaso shares how Inclusive Design helps to practice the amazing mindset of DEI -diversity, equity, inclusion. First, by clarifying the basic principles, then by sharing some hands-on tools, finally by getting backed up with technological support.
Let me briefly introduce the two key elements.
DEI - diversity, equity, inclusion - it’s a popular mindset that aims to include every person, regardless of ability, gender, language, culture, and any other form of human difference.
Inclusive Design - it’s a practical methodology that enables to design for a full range of human diversity.
In short, DEI is the theory for everyone, and Inclusive Design is the practice for designers.
In the following three steps, I walk you through a short path for gaining a basic understanding of the mindset, for utilizing common tools, and for bringing your ideas to the real market with a technological support.
There are great guidelines for gaining a mindset and for adopting general best practices, like Apple, Microsoft and Google have set up. These sources have been ongoing for years, enabling designers to consider any disability related to sight/hearing/touch - when designing interfaces. These guidelines focus on making any digital product accessible to anyone, with or without disabilities. To foster the mindset of Inclusive Design for DEI, you might find yourself facing clients and colleagues, as well as the final users. Here I share three quick hints.
When proposing this approach to your clients, try to highlight this main takeaway: designing for people with disabilities means making the contents even easier to access for anyone else. Thus, Inclusive Design pays back in any case, as it benefits people universally.
Then, even if you do not get budget/time for an extra effort, please keep in mind that “exclusion” happens when we solve problems using our own biases. So, try recognizing your own biases and work around them.
When introducing junior designers to this approach, I personally suggest considering these three key concepts:
When bringing your digital product to the market, and so to the mass market, I usually include this aspect into our strategies: to clearly communicate the results to the final users. The problem is that many people are not even aware of the many great features in their mobile phones, such as VoiceOver, LargeTextSize, ReduceMotion, ColorContrast, etc. As a designer make sure that people know about all the little design twists - especially if they took you hours of research and testing.
This first step is a must to consider, as it raises empathy and sensibility of designers.
Once the mindset has been set up and the guidelines explored, designers might wonder how to put Inclusive Design into practice. At this point, you need a hands-on approach to really practice what you preached, to ensure that your project can really take everyone into account.
As designers we say, “immerse yourself into users´ reality”, so to meet their direct needs. If designing for a visually impaired group of users, I have a tip: try to design an app while covering your eyes! Nah, I’m joking. Or maybe not. Anyways, if you try it, then let me know. But how? Do you even know if I can read or listen to your messages? Or do you know how to address me?
These above are very basic questions that we often forget to consider, as we assume a certain set up. And these assumptions make us unintentionally exclude who’s different from us. Those unconscious assumptions are called biases. Yeah, they suck! I know, so let me help. The tools below might be of support to walk them around.
But first and foremost, do your research. This will always be the very first step for every designer. We do not invent things, we understand the world and only then, we try to make it better. Thus, researching on your users and the actions that they will perform, will help to contextualize your effort.
Once you are done with your research, feel free to explore these design tools.
Design is key element today, but without a strong technological support it runs with less power. Here I list some of the tech resources that will help you in making your design feasible.
Here we close the circle: mindset, tools, technology. Isn’t it a perfect basic guide? No, it’s not, it’s imperfect. Just like people are imperfect. And that’s why we like each other, and you should like this imperfect guide, too.
These inputs are just a compact summary. There are many other great contents out there. Still, for the same basic principle of Inclusive Design, it’s crucial to consider the most standardized and common ideas to empower as much people as possible out of the 7.4 millions of people worldwide.
Two other articles have been written on the subject of DEI.