The need to be Inclusive

In the last Road Show, our CEO, talked about the need for us to be “inclusive”. How would being Inclusive enhance our business and customer products? I believe that if we make our physical customer spaces, and our digital spaces accessible to all people, we will indeed be that “insurer of choice”. We need to view our products from an Accessibility angle in order to be inclusive.

With Accessibility we mean designing our products in such a way so they can be used by customers with disabilities. These disabilities or impairments can be physical, cognitive or both.

The major categories of disability types are:

Visual: Blindness, low vision, colour-blindness
Hearing: Deafness and hard-of-hearing
Motor: Inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control
Cognitive: Learning disabilities, distractibility, inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information

If we truly want to be inclusive we must make Accessibility part of our design brief for all our products be they digital or physical. What I really like about this is that when we design for people with impairments, it helps all of us — user without impairments also benefit. One example would be if we make low contrast text, high contrast, we all benefit from an improved experience.

Let’s go further and think about what it takes to design a great user experience for everyone. We can aim to reverse the equation from one that ends in a barrier to one that includes everyone.

Design + Accessibility = Inclusive Design

A universal web is designed for all, inclusive of geography, language, and culture. It’s a place that is available for people of all abilities, aptitudes, and attitudes. In short, design has the power to not only remove barriers but also not to create them in the first place. The terms universal design, inclusive design, barrier-free design, human-centred design, and design-for-all are all concepts that strive toward a common goal: to make the user experience the first concern in making design decisions and to expand the description of users to include a wide range of human ability.

Design Thinking: Design thinking is an approach to problem solving popularized by Tim Brown from the design firm IDEO. It’s based on the idea that the types of thinking and methods behind what we call user experience design benefit all types of decision making processes. Applying design thinking broadly to our challenges and opportunities will produce more successful outcomes.

To conclude, for our products and services to be inclusive we need to embrace Design Thinking. Thinking like a designer can transform the way we develop our products, services, processes — and even strategy. The philosophy behind design thinking goes something like this: If you think about technology, you get technological products that don’t meet human needs. But if you think more broadly — about the social environment the product will be used in and the people in that setting — you will get products that are truly designed for people. This holistic approach to product creation is now championed by IBM as this inspiring 2.5 min. clip: “Inclusion by Design”. This video was published on July 15, 2015. “IBM has made accessibility an integral function of its design thinking, helping designers develop a real empathy for users and a deeper understanding of how physical, cognitive and situational disabilities affect the use of a product” (Notice the nice Video Captioning).

Accessible design also helps with creating a positive image, which will set us apart (put us ahead) of our competitors. Creating a website that welcomes everyone, regardless of how they access our site, is a good thing for our brand. Web accessibility is a social issue and it’s not going away. Even for people without a disability, being known for “doing the right thing” is good for our brand strength.​

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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