As a Designer for The Kaleidoscope Group I often find myself putting on different lenses to see through the many eyes of the people our work impacts to, hopefully, best understand their perspective. I do so in the hopes to create meaningful work not just for some, but for everyone.
STEP 1: FORM IS JUST AS VALUABLE AS FUNCTION
When developing a product / service / workplace solution we often lose track of form and solely focus on the function with the intentions of making sure we reach our said goal. Functionality rightfully takes priority in many minds for no matter how something may look & feel, if it does not serve its purpose, it is deemed useless. But as Katharine Schwab pointed out, the evolution of glasses proves form can transform glasses from a stigmatized object to an expressive and inclusive instrument (just think of those people who wear glasses but can see just fine).
This point proves that we can take something that serves its function, and through design, elevate it to create an experience receivable to anyone. So often do our voices go unheard due to lack of volume. Think of your message as the song and design as the amp blowing out your speakers. We must focus equally on form to make sure our achieved function is received by all users.
STEP 2: DESIGN FOR THE EXTREME USER–AND MAKE THE AVERAGE USER SUPERHUMAN
We may consider the extreme user as a special needs case (something a “custom solution” may call for) but, if we focus on these users, I believe that’s where true innovation occurs. I found this step extremely applicable in the creative thinking process. When we force ourselves to consider “extreme-users” we create super solutions for our “average user.” This “outside-the-box” thinking style is perfect both for innovation and inclusion, a real win-win. I urge you to explore the needs of “outliers” and see how many cutting-edge solutions you come up with while making sure their needs are accommodated.
STEP 3: INCLUSIVE DESIGN GIVES PEOPLE INDEPENDENCE
The idea that a person is disabled stems from a disconnect between self and environment. If we create an inclusive environment a, said “disabled” person, moves from disabled to empowered. This way of thinking can be used to elevate each other in the workplace. I believe empowerment culture gives individuals the sense of security to grow and develop themselves independently which ultimately positively impacts business. As we design products / services / workplace solutions we need to think inclusively to cover all spectrums of people to best empower our user.
Designing for EVERYONE is by no means an easy task. But these 3 steps will definitely bring you closer to an inclusive solution. Let’s expand our way of thinking to see all the beautiful colors of the world and paint our best picture.