How to Get Started with Designing for Inclusivity

January 5, 2020

Athar Majeed

A good designer has a great capacity for empathy and works to create interactive designs that are inclusive of every user. However, there are many software and applications that are not inclusive. But it’s not good enough to ensure that everyone enjoys the solutions or products that designers create.

What is inclusive design?

Inclusive design is basically a way of thinking while creating digital products. This process enables diverse people to access products. This also includes creative designing for people without or with impairments. For instance, Microsoft’s Inclusive Design features a fantastic group of videos with Inclusive Design. Sadly, many digital products aren’t accessible to the majority of people.

Furthermore, inclusive design helps create products that serve as many individuals as possible. It’s important, particularly when the product is being created for millions of people to make different ways for people to enjoy the experience.

What’s the importance of inclusive design?

Designing with inclusivity is important in some of the following ways:

  • It is good for your business: more than billions of people have some type of impairment. By creating certain inclusive products, there are more chances to increase market share that will help you in raising revenues. Reportedly, if businesses become more inclusive, there are more chances of getting great opportunities.
  • Protects you from lawsuits: If all individuals are not able to access your products, then it’s discriminating against the ones who are not able to use it. Many countries also have laws against such discrimination against people with an impairment to ensure they also get equal rights like everyone else. Recently, even Beyonce’s website had to face a lawsuit for web accessibility issues. Even the UN provides a convention regarding the rights of people with disabilities to include digital access.
  • It increases creativity: while creating inclusive products could be a complex and challenging task for developers and designers due to constraints. However, this forces designers to be more creative. With a creative mindset and thinking, one can create better user-friendly products.
  • It’s just the right thing to do: By providing the same opportunity to everyone is definitely the right thing to do in life. As a digital product creator, one has to promote doing only the right thing to ensure all people get equal opportunities and rights. All thanks to inclusive designs, a single product is designed considering every individual. This means that everyone will be able to enjoy the facilities without any inaccessibility issues.

How to get started with designing for inclusivity?

For designing with inclusivity, the designers have to expand their product’s sparks, reach, and innovation. It also helps businesses to take on social responsibility for certain communities.

There are six basic principles to adopt an inclusive design mindset for design practice. These principles are influenced by a combination of conversations with researchers and designers, existing research, and project accessibility & inclusion. All the principles are intended to evolve as a business gains more exposure for different facets of inclusive design.

So, without further ado, let’s discuss the major principles that are essential to get started with designing for inclusivity:

1. Look for points of exclusion

Proactively look for points of exclusion, as well as use them for generating new ideas and highlighting more opportunities for creating new solutions. Designers have to understand exactly why and how people are excluded. This will further help them to establish basic steps towards design inclusivity.

In practice: According to user feedback, it’s found that typically educational video experience used to exclude HOH or deaf people. But further research has shown that exclusion happens across both context and ability - the deaf users were not able to access the audio-heavy video experience, and ADA requirements for avoiding the video content to be used within the public educational settings.

2. Identify situational challenges

Even situational basis can cause exclusion. You must consider the context in which users interact with the design and product so that they can easily access the daily moments of user exclusion.

In practice: As per user research, ability-based and situational impairments caused overlapping user needs and pain points. This means that the solutions created for users who are HOH or deaf must beneficial for those who utilize video content in a noisy cafe or airport.

Read Also: Top 6 Common Prototyping Mistakes Designers Make

3. Recognize individual biases

Involving people from diverse communities during the design process is also important for creating an inclusive design. This will not only enable users to show what they want but will also help them to look beyond their own biases and abilities when making products.

In practice: If designers involve a specific user community for testing or researching, the design team would be able to systematically identify and test any biases and assumptions. This approach has revealed that a redesign requires you to accommodate language and reading abilities for the deaf community. Most of the people are bilingual and learning English as their second language. If the user community is not involved, the designs would be reflecting individual assumptions and abilities about a specific language.

4. Offer various ways to engage

By providing individuals with different ways to engage and participate in a specific, designers get unique opportunities to create inclusive designs. With distinct options, users can choose methods that best serve them in varied circumstances.

In practice: For enabling users who are HOH or deaf to access video content, a design team can present each machine-generated transcript in different ways. The complete transcript enables closed captioning and quick skimming to offer real-time translation of the given audio content. This further offers users different ways to engage with one similar content.

5. Provide equivalent experiences

While designing a program in different ways for diverse people, engagement must be given priority to ensure that user experiences are comparable. However, meeting users’ accessibility standards won’t guarantee you a comparable or usability experience.

In practice: The closed captioning fulfil ADA requirements, however, designing for inclusivity means to make it usable for the target community. You must ensure that users get equivalent experience while using different playback speeds for accommodating captioning formats, language ability, and different transcripts for better task efficiency.

6. Extend the solution to every user

Designing an inclusive solution for one specific group can benefit a broader audience.

In practice: Although transcription and closed captioning features are designed while keeping HUH or deaf in mind, a design team must include all individuals’ needs so that everyone can benefit from the solution. For instance, video captions could be used in a loud sports bar or airport or for promoting language learning and literacy.


Now we know why design inclusivity is important and how to utilize it, so we can start implementing it as soon as possible. Here are the major points to note down when thinking of design inclusivity for a project:

  • Designing products with inclusivity is easy and comes with plenty of advantages.
  • Designers must practice what they preach and must show empathy for everyone.
  • Most importantly, design inclusivity is the right thing to do. Therefore, it must be done right away!

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