Inclusive Design beyond Architecture

Lately much is said about Inclusive Design or Universal Design for a sustainable society, but the focus is almost in architecture. People don´t know the benefits generated by the Inclusive Design applied to product design and graphic design and nowadays, web-design and apps.

One of the primary design goals is to provide quality of life for all, without exception and also to change mindsets, behaviors and perceptions to build a more inclusive society.

Quality of life means inclusion, accessability for all, not only to the physical-mentally healthy. If we are to talk about a truly sustainable society, people with disabilities and elderly users must be and active part of it, that´s possible with the application of Inclusive Design.

What means Inclusive Design?

Inclusive Design is not a new genre, not a separate specialization.

It is an approach which ensures that products and services are designed to meet the needs of the public as broad as possible, regardless of age or ability.

Two major trends have driven the growth of Inclusive Design (also known as Design for All and Universal Design in the U.S.): an aging population and the growing movement to integrate disabled people into society.

Here are a few of the Inclusive Design commandments to be followed:

• Fair Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities;

• Flexibility in use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities;

• Simple and intuitive: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user experience, knowledge, language skills or concentration level;

• Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of the user’s sensory abilities;

• Low physical effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue

A rule of thumb is to always bear in mind that seniors and people with some type of restriction will always be potential users and as such must be considered.

The application of Inclusive Design, foster the basic right of any citizen to come and go, regardless of their physical state.

However, erroneously there is a believe that Inclusive Design is only a quick adaptation of the environment such as building a ramp or installing elevators for the disabled. Also, surprisingly, many designers have no such knowledge or awareness and still believe that good design is just one that is in international fairs for furniture and decoration.

Real Application of Inclusive Design

This awareness of change towards an inclusive society must come from all segments of society, especially the Government, that must guarantee the basic right of any citizen to come and go, regardless of their physical state.

This requires:

1 — Legislation

2 — Standard (norms)

3 — Inspections / self-regulation

4 — More information from manufacturers, entrepreneurs (tax benefits for those investment projects Inclusive Design)

5 — Education / Training in Inclusive Design in various areas of knowledge (ergonomics, design, engineering, architecture, psychology, medicine)

6 — Awards and certifications / seals “Inclusive Design” for products and / or services, systems and buildings

7 — More consumer information (Inclusive Design is a consumer´s right )

Benefits of Inclusive Design

Inclusive Design democratizes design allowing a wider range of people to have access and use the product directly (or with any device support), also allows the product to be used in a wider variety of environments or situations. The Inclusive Design is flexible enough to meet the needs of beginners and advanced users and is also friendly to users in general, easier to understand and use.

The benefit is individual, but also extends to their immediate context and the society itself. The Inclusive Design builds a fairer society, with more economic opportunities for all, generates increasing physical independence and emotional self-esteem and dignity.

The design is thus a social issue, as it will improve society by bringing better quality of life by providing products, services and systems suitable to contribute to a more sustainable society. The Inclusive Design is socially desirable and necessary, but it is also a business opportunity that can not be neglected.

Products and systems are more competitive with Inclusive Design, creating new market opportunities and product differentiation as similar to traditional. Future consumer markets are increasingly diverse in age and physical ability.

Now the focus is on integrating the best solutions for all, supported by new research techniques designed to make the process more user-centered development.

With this focus you can create innovations in systems and services, generating new dynamics at urban, social and economic institutions that can serve as models and be applicable to other contexts, thus breaking traditional paradigms and creating a sustainable — accessible innovative society.

The gift of Inclusive Design

Suppliers and products and services and advertising need to put aside prejudice and to also consider people with disabilities and the elderly, after all, these people also have power consumption and is not just prioritizing the beauty and youth forever.

We found that a large proportion of products, services and systems in our daily life has never been designed for people with a disability or old age.

I propose the following exercise to start the day and during one week, take a small notebook and write down everything that does not work right and how it could be optimized and you will be surprised at the amount of products, systems and service failures.

The urban context does not help, but rather contributes to accidents. A comprehensive urban environment and well designed allows the state to save money in the field of urban health by reducing accidents material derived from a poor designed environment.

The Future of Inclusive Design

The Inclusive Design today is more related to NGOs, personal causes or completely in the field of medicine, rehabilitation and disability. These initiatives are valid, but should contact the industrial sector — business and permeate our daily lives.

Companies must realize that the segment of the Inclusive Design is a large and growing market that should be explored, is no longer a niche small.

There are many factors that lead us down that road. We have, for example, aging global population, we can not have sustainable development if we leave out important segments of society such as the elderly and the disabled.

Inclusive Design Case Studies

For case studies and examples visit the links below:

Design Council UK

Helen Hamlyn Centre — Design Research Center

Bad Human factors in design

About the author:

Industrial Designer Marcio Dupont is a design advocate for people with disabilities.

He is a healthcare —inclusive — sustainable design expert, consulting worlwide, designing for a better world.

Follow him at @maducao and Linkedin for more universal design, sustainability, innovation.

Thanks for reading. Please, share it, because good design is for everybody!!