The Importance Of Inclusive Design

corey joseph seen sitting in a chair. he is wearing a blue sweater, light blue shirt and khaki pants. At his feet is his guide dog.

“Design for accessibility, build for usability.”

The importance of inclusive design has been emphasized by many people for a long time. However, creators and developers, more often than not, do not necessarily consider it as an important aspect of product conception and development. In simplest of words, inclusive design encourages products and/or services to be designed in ways that can make it easy for people with disabilities to use them. That is what Cory Joesph, a User Experience Program Manager at Microsoft, who is visually impaired, explains very well in this short movie below.

Just like everyone else, Cory uses technology to go about his day. For example, to travel to his destination, he requests a ride from his Uber app. However, he does that through VoiceOver, the screen reader app on iPhones that narrates all options on the phone to him. While sitting in his Uber, another app, BlindSquare, announces the intersections he is passing. He wears an eone watch that has physical marbles and raised marks for the hours and minutes that he can simply touch to know what time it is.

the eone watch has a marble for hour inside the watch, marks for hours and another marble on the side for minutes. By simply touching these marbles and marks, a blind person can tell what the time is.
The Eone Bradly Mesh Black with raised markers and marbles.

The Uber app and eone watch are not special products that were built specifically for people like Corey. What is special about them though is that they have been designed to be accessible to people with disabilities as well. The app has just the right elements that make it work smoothly with VoiceOver. The watch’s physical elements make it usable by both sighted and non sighted users. And this is what Corey wants developers, creators, and inventors to understand. He is not asking for anything special. All he wants is that the product or service be accessible right from the get go.

The Need For Inclusive Design

Everyone should be able to access information or use a product and/or service easily. When someone creates  a product, they most likely ask questions like “can someone use this product with a slow internet connection?”. In addition, how about they also ask the following:

Can someone who is blind use the product or service?

Can someone who cannot hear use the product or service?

Can someone whose eyes hurt and get migraines when they look at flashes use the product or service?

And so on.

As designers, there are many details we have to consider while designing a product. As creators, we have to take these considerations and bring them to reality. It is a little more effort in the beginning but it helps us reach a much wider audience. In the end, It’s a win-win for everyone involved – for users with disabilities who can now use the products easily, and for the creators who not only get a much larger customer base but also increase revenues, if profitability is a significant metric for their business.

Watch this short movie below to see Corey explain what it was like growing up blind, going to the movies and not understanding the visual elements yet having a great time, and why inclusive design is extremely important. This movie also shows how audio descriptions can enhance the way blind people watch movies.

Source: Chris Higgins

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