What is Inclusive Design - and What it Isn’t

On Mismatch, a digital magazine for designers, founder Kat Holmes calls inclusive design “a skill that is developed with practice, over time.” Holmes continues, “In my education as an engineer, designer, and citizen I never formally learned about inclusion or exclusion. Accessibility, sociology, and civil rights weren’t required curricula for learning how to build technology.” For designers, she writes, “three fears of inclusion will likely strike you at some point. If so, you’re not alone. But from each of them grows an insight into the nature of inclusion.”

· Inclusion isn’t nice:  There are many different interpretations of the word “inclusion,” but very little guidance on what exactly this word means. The bottom line is that inclusion isn’t nice; it’s about challenging the status quo and fighting for hard-won victories.

· Inclusion is imperfect: There are endless nuances and considerations when designing for people. There is no single answer that suits everyone. Accessible solutions are always, inevitably, accessible to some but not all people.

· Inclusion is ongoing: There are rarely enough talented people, time, and money to make a sudden sea change in inclusivity. As a result, the work of inclusion is never done.

An important distinction between inclusive design and universal design is that accessibility is an attribute, whereas inclusive design is a method. In other words, universal design is one-size-fits-all, while inclusive design is one-size-fits-one.

Kat Holmes is the author of the book Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design. Read the full article here, on Mismatch.