[community] Response regarding cost of Inclusive Design for Daniel Ura OCAD

Treviranus, Jutta jtreviranus at ocadu.ca
Fri Sep 8 16:22:18 UTC 2017

Thanks John for this important addition.

I agree with John, until we transform our practices we will need to protect people who are marginalized with human rights legislation and policy. Also discrimination is not random, especially in the workplace. There is a strong argument and evidence that strong human rights legislation and policy leads to a more prosperous society overall. One of the first required readings in the Inclusive Design program has been the Spirit Level.

John raises some important nuances that I left out of my description for simplicity. These also point out how inclusive design differs from some of the current accessibility approaches.

One current way of addressing the diversity of needs is to create categories that are not the dense centre, and treat these as homogenous clusters. Examples might be "people who are blind", people who speak X minority language, etc. You would create products/policies/services for these niche markets. As John pointed out, you don’t have the same economies of scale so the products or services will be more costly. This is a problem for the consumer and the supplier because if your needs are marginal you are more likely to have less wealth because everything you need will cost more.

The other unfortunate effect is that people fall through the cracks of your categories or are left stranded at the edge. If you find your needs not addressed through these categories that frequently claim “full accessibility,” then it will be even harder to get your needs met. I’ve listened to a business that was determined to be compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) tell a customer who couldn’t access their service because of a disability that his business was "fully accessible" and the customer was to blame for their lack of access. Rather than address disparity this increases disparity for excluded individuals.

One of the notions I’ve been exploring is a variant of “full environmental costing”, what I’ve been calling “full social costing.” Our means of determining costs and value need to take a longer view and a broader view.


On Sep 8, 2017, at 11:33 AM, John W (personal) <pickupwillis at gmail.com<mailto:pickupwillis at gmail.com>> wrote:

I love having this discussion!

I want to add one thread to Jutta's great exposition, which is to urge that we take care to be nuanced in our characterization of 'traditional' or 'mainstream' product development and marketing.

Most markets are iterative, by which I mean that they have repeated sequences of identifying customers and then normalizing them on a distribution plot of some kind. So, for example,

- Market A is optimized for the largest number of customers for a product (a single bell curve (distribution of needs or preferences). When a customer's needs fall along the tails of the curve they are deemed 'marginal' or too costly to engage with firms in  the market, so they are left out.
- the tails of Market A, however, are the target market for Market B, which creates its own bell curve that also has tails of excluded customers, and so on - Market C targets the tails of Market B as its customers, Market D targets the tails of Market C, etc. etc.

Market development is, currently, precisely this process of seeking marginal customers of an existing market, understanding their needs and then meeting those needs through new product or service innovations. It has a repeated and continuous focus on marginal customers, trying to re-situate them as the dense core of a new market.

This is more feasible now due to digital control and mass customization. Think of all the start-ups you know of - many of them are identifying marginals and seeking to make them into customers of a new product or service offering. This was much more difficult pre-internet and WWW.

Unfortunately, the dynamism of open markets still fails in many instances to capture the needs of many people. Those unmet needs are not random, though - the various modes of social exclusion such as radialization, disability, low income, gender, etc - explain to a large degree (in my view) why marginalization continues despite growth and increasing sophistication in markets. More than ever, niche markets are feasible - a gay men's wine cruise of the Rhine, for example - but the underlying logic is still that you need money to play, and to get money you need work.

I think we still must accept that certain aspects of inclusion will only come through social policy. As a society, we should insist (legislate) that individuals with significant differences be accomodated in the labour market, which means in firms and businesses. It's simply another form of tithe or taxation - you want to do business in our community, you must absorb costs of accomodating workers who are ready and skilled to do the work, even if you can't imediately figure out how to profit from diversity.

To me what is so unique about inclusive design is that we now have, at this very point in history, tools to make every market more inclusive, including labour markets (along the lines Jutta outlines) - but this should not be a theory that replaces our existing understanding of why it is that marginalization is not random. Critical theory + inclusive design = greater potential than ever before to make a peaceful, inclusive, green society.


On Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 9:45 AM, Treviranus, Jutta <jtreviranus at ocadu.ca<mailto:jtreviranus at ocadu.ca>> wrote:
Hi Daniel,
With inclusive design, rather than designing for the largest customer base or the average or typical customer, and rather than designing to find the one best solution for the largest number of people, your goal is to create a design that stretches to encompass the largest range of diverse needs.

If you were to take any population and plot their needs on a three dimensional scatterplot it would look like a starburst with a denser cluster in the middle and points emanating out from that denser centre. The dots at the periphery are individuals whose needs are not met by the standard designs and current markets. They are people with disabilities, people who are marginalized and people who are in very small minorities. They are not considered in traditional design processes. Their needs are more diverse or more different from each other than the needs in the denser centre which are more homogenous but also diverse. Collectively the dots at the periphery usually outnumber the dots in the denser centre.

If you design for only that denser centre, especially as an entity like the government or a public entity that nominally needs to be available to all citizens or customers you will be repeatedly asked to modify your design or to provide additional alternatives. You will also find that for many contexts those individuals that had needs represented by the denser centre will stray to the edges and ask for adjustments. Taking software for example, each modification will likely be a bolt-on or hack. This will degrade your design and make it more difficult to maintain. It will look something like a house with all manner of things added on but not fully integrated. Eventually it will no longer work but not before the costs of maintaining and modifying it have steadily increased.

If you inclusively design, you design for the largest number of those peripheral and edge needs. Because those needs are so diverse, this means you need to enable personalization, or one-size-fits-one. For interfaces this is attained through a flexible, transformable interface. For industrial design it can be achieved through an inherent and interoperable modularity or adjustability that enables extensibility.

The inclusive design will be more sustainable, more updatable and also more transferable to initially unplanned new uses.

The cost of the design for only the denser centre is initially less expensive but far more costly over time. It’s life span is also limited. The cost for the inclusively designed system that stretches to the edges is more expensive to begin with but it is less costly in the long run and will have a much longer life span. The inclusive design will likely take more time at the start but pay off in less time to retrofit, maintain and train and in longevity.

Does that make sense to you?

Good examples of this phenomenon include the Web. Anytime edge requirements were included the systems lasted longer and were put to more uses. Think of the brittleness of things like Flash and Flex and then the longevity of CSS. Open APIs and open standards help with interoperability and inclusive design.

I’d love to amass good examples of this phenomenon, I’m sure people can think of new examples.


> On Sep 7, 2017, at 5:52 PM, Daniel Ura <danielura73 at gmail.com<mailto:danielura73 at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Hi all,
> My name is Daniel Ura and I'm a graduate student at OCAD studying Strategic
> Foresight and Innovation. I'm starting my Major Research Project these
> days, which is about how businesses could integrate Inclusive Design and
> Frugal Innovation principles as a strategy.
> Felipe Sarmiento once mentioned to me that Inclusive Design is expensive in
> the short term yet cost-effective in the long term.
> I ask the community if there are any links (articles, research, essays,
> etc) that substantiates that claim. My hope is that by combining these two
> concepts, businesses can utilize Frugal Inclusive Design.
> I look forward to your responses. Thank you.
> Best,
> Daniel Ura
> ________________________________________
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John D. Willis | CMRP, MDes
Inclusive design, strategy and research
Toronto CANADA

Web: www.jdwillis.ca<http://www.jdwillis.ca/>
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