Whom are you not designing for?

Earlier this year I had a privilege of sharing my thoughts on the future of inclusive design with the readers of Readymag. We discussed topics ranging from accessibility testing to democratisation of technology, and you can find highlights from the conversation here.

Tiina Golub

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How do you define human-centered design?

If design is the process of envisioning and planning the creation of something, then a human-centered approach defines how to measure its success. When form follows function, human-centered design is simply the process of designing something for humans and measuring the outcome by how usable it is.

What is the difference between accessible and inclusive design?

I like to think of inclusivity as a spectrum: on the one extreme, you are designing an exclusive product for one specific user, and on the other, you are creating something for everyone. Accessibility, which means inclusion of people with known disabilities, as well as others, is partway down this spectrum. It addresses the needs of some users, but doesn’t include everyone.

Are inclusive and ethical design synonymous?

I sometimes hear people using the terms inclusive and ethical design interchangeably, and this makes me uncomfortable because it implies certain virtue on the part of the designer. It’s like we are saying: “Hey, look how nice we’re being by not discriminating against you!”.

In reality, considering the needs of all users is the core part of our practice. Product designers aren’t being generous when we’re making accessible designs — we are simply doing the bare minimum of our job.

What disability model stands at the core of accessible design?

Accessible design has its roots in the social model that states that people aren’t disabled by their impairment but by the world around them. This model focuses on the artificial barriers that prevent people with disability from fully participating in the society.

It’s an important message to internalise: anything created to be used by people is designed to be accessible for an average…

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Tiina Golub

Senior product designer at Avantra | Design mentor at ADPList. Passionate about inclusive design, behavioural psychology and minimalism.