Inclusive Design

Image showing stick figures with different disabilities.

I’ve been spending the past few days thinking about inclusion. I’m embarking on a big project at work where there is a great need, and benefit, to ensure inclusive design practises are considered from the outset and importantly that we don’t exclude anyone.

Previously in luxury fashion, banks, or social networks for the privileged, inclusive design wasn’t ever a big priority and it rarely is for the able-bodied person. In a good old customer centred fashion, I began thinking how I can change that? Getting the board room buy in from well meaning, but unknowing senior managers is a challenge at the best of times, never mind getting them to approve extra time on a project with a larger budget to boot would be harder.

Animation of different kinds of disability.

I quickly ended up at the The Inclusive Design Toolkit, a University of Cambridge website demonstrating some of their work and research in the field. Particularly of interest were these reasonably priced Cambridge Simulation Glasses to simulate vision impairment. Double them up to increase the effects, etc. Also, the Cambridge Simulation Gloves that highlight the effects of arthritis and a limitation in hand movement seem like a great tool. Hearing impairment could easily be simulated by a pair of over ear headphones (any self respecting designer already has a pair of those), preferably noise canceling. Simple tools to demonstrate a complex and pressing problem.

There are a bunch of other resources on the Inclusive Design Toolkit, it’s well worth a look, but how big is the problem? Microsoft’s Design Language, Inclusive section has some really great printed resources, activities to help you host workshops and videos demonstrating the issues.

Some books that I’ve come across and added to my reading list / downloaded:

Designing Around People – Springer (2017) Available at:

“Inclusive Design” (2003). doi: 10.1007/978-1-4471-0001-0.

“Inclusive Designing” (2014). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-05095-9.

Pickering, H. (2016) Inclusive design patterns. 1st ed. Smashing Magazine.

Let me know if you come across anything that I might like to read in the comments.

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