[community] Inclusive Design Principles

Treviranus, Jutta jtreviranus at ocadu.ca
Tue Sep 12 17:20:56 UTC 2017

Hi Tali,

Thanks for sharing this. The Principles are very much aligned with our 3 dimensions, as are WCAG’s POUR. These are great guidelines for inclusive or accessible design of UX and content.  They are also well aligned to our toolkit: http://guide.inclusivedesign.ca, which is a collective work in progress. This is a wonderful event. 

This however begs the question of why I didn’t develop “7 principles of Inclusive Design.” Many people over the last 3 decades have urged me to do this and asked the question “Universal Design has 7 principles, what are the 7 principles of Inclusive Design?”

It would be easy to develop a checklist of inclusive design principles. There are many things we ask inclusive designers to consider. 

However, some of the reasons I bristle at checklists and enumerated lists include:

-       Inclusive design is relative to the individual, the goal and their context. Each intersection of a person, their goal and their context deserves a fresh look without prior assumptions or a formulaic approach. There are not only new individuals but also new contexts emerging. Many people with cognitive access issues have not been well considered. New sociotechnical practices emerge all the time raising new considerations and opportunities. Even if we promote a list as “things to consider,” seeing what has happened to WCAG checklists, they become sacrosanct and begin to supersede our respect for the individual situation. 

-       An enumerated list asserts completeness, how do we know it is complete and there aren’t other things we haven’t considered? I like to encourage the Wabi Sabi principle because it invites participation and ownership. Wabi Sabi asserts the value of the imperfect, incomplete and impermanent. We live in a complex adaptive system and anything static will not survive, the world will flow around it. The best longevity strategy is to create a complex adaptive response that recruits as many people as possible that feel ownership and investment.

-       A list often implies an assigned value, either asserting that each of the principles is of equal value or that there is some order of priority. The priority of the things to consider differs with each person, goal and context.

-       I do not want to encourage a checklist mentality, or a cardinal list of things you can tick off to show that you have achieved “full inclusive design.” Inclusive design is an ongoing process. For people with disabilities or people that are marginalized there is no “fix.” There is no accessibility widget we can develop to cure exclusion. It is an ongoing process or ethos that we need to infuse in all that we do.

This is why I developed 3 dimensions. The 3 dimensions take into account not just the outcome or success criteria of design, but also the design process. The dimensions are a supportive scaffold that encourages us to consider and support the individual and their self-knowledge and agency, the process, and the context; to aim for benefit-for-all.  It is intended to get to the fundamental viewpoints to  consider -- that are part of all inclusive design challenges.

That is not to say that lists are not useful and effective in moving inclusive design forward.  Formulas support practice and memory. “Jutta’s response to everything is diversity,” is something that has frequently been said about me. The Paciello initiative offers a variant that strengthens inclusive design.  Diversity is our most valuable asset, this applies not only to people in society but also to processes and outcomes.

Does that make sense? I’d love your thoughts.


> On Sep 12, 2017, at 9:44 AM, Taliesin Smith <talilief at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Inclusive Design Community,
> I am reviewing the great talks that happened at the ID24 (Inclusive Design 24) event in June, and I came across a talk by Henny Swan on a set of Inclusive Design Principles.  
> There’s a website for these Inclusive Design Principles <http://inclusivedesignprinciples.org/> as well as the ID24 talk. Henny Swan, Ian Pouncey, Heydon Pickering and Léonie Watson, have been working on these “principles” that are intended to help teams put people first during the design process.
> It would be interesting to think about these 7 Inclusive Design Principles along side and together with the IDRC's 3 Dimensions of Inclusive Design <https://idrc.ocadu.ca/about-the-idrc/49-resources/online-resources/articles-and-papers/443-whatisinclusivedesign> to see how they converge.
> There are many more great talks on the ID24 site <https://www.inclusivedesign24.org/>, and a please note that there is a call for submissions for the November ID24 event, as well.
> Taliesin
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