Blog by Raam Shanker

Designing for Accessibility: Inclusive Product Design for All Users

In the pursuit of creating impactful and meaningful products, the concept of accessibility takes centre-stage, paving the way for inclusive design principles that cater to the diverse needs of users. Designing products with accessibility in mind not only enhances the user experience for individuals with specific needs but also contributes to a more inclusive and considerate society.

The Importance of Accessibility in Design:

Accessibility in design is not just a feature; it’s a commitment to ensuring that products can be used by everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. By embracing universal design principles, designers aim to create products that cater to a broad spectrum of users, fostering an environment of equality and inclusivity.

Inclusivity Beyond Compliance:

While compliance with accessibility standards is a crucial starting point, true inclusivity goes beyond meeting regulatory requirements. It involves understanding the unique challenges faced by individuals with diverse abilities and designing products that proactively address these challenges. Inclusive design considers a wide range of user characteristics, including cognitive, sensory, and motor abilities.

This is what we at Equitus call “spirit of the law” which is the real intent behind a regulation, as opposed to the word of the law, which is what is written.

Universal Design Principles:

Universal design principles focus on creating products that are usable by people of all abilities without the need for adaptation. This involves providing multiple means of representation, action, expression, and engagement. Designers consider flexibility, simplicity, perceptible information, and tolerance for error to ensure that the product is intuitive and accommodating to a diverse user base.

Microscopic Example: Inclusive Playground Equipment:

A tangible example of inclusive design can be found in the realm of playground equipment. Inclusive playgrounds go beyond traditional structures, incorporating features that cater to children of all abilities. For instance, inclusive swings with back and side support accommodate children with physical disabilities. Ground-level activities, sensory-rich elements, and ramps ensure that the playground is accessible to children with varying mobility levels.

Macroscopic Example: Cars:

65% of the world drives on the right hand side of the road. This means only 35% of us such as those living in the UK, India, Australia, South Africa etc drive on the left hand side of the road. This has not stopped car makers from making cars for us. This is an example of accessible design on a macroscopic level.

Empathy-Driven Design:

Empathy is an essential and often overlooked ingredient for success. It is like baking a chocolate cake without chocolate in it. Organisations fail because leaders lack or don’t display empathy. Relationships fail because people lack or don’t display empathy. Products fail because designers lack or don’t display empathy.

At the core of designing for accessibility is empathy. By putting themselves in the shoes of users with diverse abilities, designers gain insights that lead to more thoughtful and considerate solutions. This empathetic approach not only enhances the usability of the product but also fosters a sense of belonging for users who may have felt marginalized in traditional design approaches.

Equitus and The Future of Inclusive Design:

As technology and design continue to evolve, the future holds tremendous potential for inclusive design to become the norm rather than the exception. By integrating accessibility considerations from the outset, designers contribute to a world where products are not just functional but enriching and empowering for all users.

In the journey towards inclusive design, every thoughtful decision brings us closer to a world where accessibility is a fundamental aspect of product creation. By championing inclusivity, designers contribute to a more compassionate and harmonious future where everyone can fully participate and engage with the products that shape their lives.

This is how we design products and solutions at Equitus.