Real-World Accessible & Inclusive Designs        

How Inclusive Design Improves Everyday Accessibility

June 12, 2024

Everyone comes from a unique background and possesses distinct abilities. That’s why it’s necessary to empathize with users to create inclusive and accessible designs that are universal. While designing for accessibility may be seen as a legal checkbox to tick, in reality, it is an opportunity to innovate and make the world more user-friendly. Once you understand how inclusive design improves everyday accessibility, your products and designs can transform lives.

The Importance of Accessibility in Design

Accessibility in design refers to creating products, services, and environments that can be used by people of all abilities, including those living with disabilities. This approach benefits individuals with disabilities and enhances usability for everyone. Real-life examples of products and services that successfully implement inclusive design principles.

To understand the traits of successful inclusive and accessible designs, we should explain why it’s necessary. Designing with accessibility in mind and having empathy is crucial for several reasons.

Beyond Design used empathy during the research process when designing for Juvo Products to validate solutions for all types of users.

Firstly, it is a matter of human rights. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes the right of people with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of life and fundamental freedoms. These rights include access to mobility, social activities, employment, communication, and education. Universal designs ensure all users have equal access to products and solutions. Design for accessibility prompts access to basic rights and complies with social and governance criteria.

Secondly, designing for accessibility benefits all users, not just those living with disabilities. Adding new ways to engage with a product or service outside the traditional norm benefits everyone benefits without diluting the overall experience. For instance, curb cuts were initially designed for wheelchair users, however, they also help the visually impaired stay aware of their surroundings and prevent strollers and luggage from rolling away. Importantly, incorporating these accessible design elements does not detract from the user experience of others. Designing around diverse users can create broad solutions to help even more people.

Thirdly, accessibility nurtures inventive thinking and originality. When designers face challenges to solve different needs, they conceptualize solutions that push conventional boundaries. Design conditions, like accessibility design, force creative thought. The most prevalent example is the touchscreen, which was an alternative solution to resistive buttons and keyboards. The concept was widely adopted due to its convenience, versatility, and user-friendliness, making technology accessible to more users.

Examples of Accessibility in Design

We have established that Design for Accessibility is important but what big companies are adopting these principles? Below are some household names that lean into inclusive and accessible design.

Nike Flyease Shoes – Nike FlyEase creates laceless shoes that are quick and easy to wear. Users slide their feet into the shoes and then step on their heels to remove the shoes. The process is easy and hands-free. The accessible design unlocks benefits for people with limited dexterity or mobility. Nike’s FlyEase shoes demonstrate how accessible design modifications expose products to a new market formerly excluded from using such products.

Nike’s Flyease Shoes make running shoes more accessible and easier to wear.

IKEA’s OMTÄNKSAM Collection – IKEA’s OMTÄNKSAM Collection is designed for the needs of elderly and disabled people. The collection includes easy-grip utensils, non-slip trays, and ergonomically designed furniture. These products make everyday tasks easier and more comfortable for people with limited mobility.

Ikea’s collection of products makes household tasks more accessible for various users and circumstances.

Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller – The Xbox Adaptive Controller is a gaming controller designed for people with limited mobility. It features large programmable buttons and ports for connecting external switches, joysticks, and accessories, allowing gamers to customize their setup to suit their needs. 

The Xbox Adaptive Controller lets gamers play in a way that’s most convenient for them.

Google Maps – Google Maps has incorporated several features to assist people with disabilities in navigating their surroundings. One such feature is the ability to filter search results based on accessibility criteria, like wheelchair-accessible entrances and seating. This feature enables people with mobility impairments to plan their routes more efficiently and confidently.

The ability to search for accessible locations on Google Maps makes accessibility more transparent and convenient.

Companies like Nike, Ikea, Xbox, and Google are just a few examples of how companies and products are becoming more inclusive and accessible by design. They recognize that nurturing these design principles adds to the overall user experience and can help users in innovative ways.

Inclusivity and accessibility are design considerations and moral imperatives. Designing with accessibility in mind upholds basic human rights, fosters innovation, and ensures we include all members of society. Everyone wins when society and products use inclusive design. It is about creating inclusive experiences that enhance lives and give users new ways to interact with products and environments. By embracing accessibility in design, every day can be more inclusive and equitable for people of all abilities.

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