Why Design Should Include Everyone

Why Design Should Include Everyone

Over the last decade, accessibility and equal opportunities for all have become increasingly important. Whether the term is ‘accessible design’, ‘usable design’, or ‘universal design’; the aim is to make the product easier for everyone to use so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.

How the design affects you?

Often when we use a product, we do not think about how the design might affect you. Whether this is physically or emotionally. Sinéad Burke considers a new perspective on how important design is. Sinéad Burke is 105 centimetres (or 3′ 5″) tall, and is very aware of details that are practically invisible to many of us.

The design world often stops her ability to do things herself. For example, even from reaching the lock on a door to looking for the range of available shoe sizes. She explains how it feels navigating the world as a little person. When Sinéad was at the airport, the only way through the airport was using a wheelchair due to the lack of accessibility design at the airport. Due to the standards of design for heights of chairs, she had to crawl on her hands and knees just to get on top of one. She was also conscious that it might tip over at any stage. At times, she had to rely on the benefit of strangers but not everybody is so kind. She encouraged people to think about designs: “Who is it accessible to? And whose needs are not being accommodated for?”

Rob Van Varick of Michael Graves Design and Sinéad Burke had lengthy discussions about the definition of accessibility, design standards and the perceived aesthetics of accessibility. People assume that by making a product, building or organisation accessible, we are limiting its beauty or physical appeal.  However accessible solutions can, and should be, beautiful.

If product designers apply universal design principles, focusing on accessibility for people with a variety of disabilities and including them in usability tests, this will ensure products can be more accessible to everyone.

To listen to the talk on TED Click Here

The Learning Support Centre: Empowering you to fulfil your potential.