Would you like to learn more about inclusive design?

By Christine Hemphill | 22nd March 2021

Recently we have had the pleasure of listening to some brilliant presentations and podcasts on inclusive design and innovation. We have also been sharing some of our thoughts on the subject in the community for others to hopefully get more interested in this fabulous topic. If you are curious about how diverse insight and inclusive design can improve your job, product or business please check out some of the links in this article.

A shiny new accessibility conference, Axe-Con

Two weeks ago was Axe-Con, Deque’s brand new Digital Accessibility Conference held virtually from their USA base. Huge kudos to Deque! It was an excellent first conference for the organisers with over 17,000 people attending over the course of the 2-day event. Many more may be taking advantage of the recorded sessions to go back (as I am) to listen to those speakers I missed live. Tom and Christine from Open Inclusion presented “Authenticate It” on the topic of how authentic, diverse user insight and testing can improve digital products. It was a whirlwind why, what and how of disability and age-inclusive user engagement. If you registered you have 6 months to go catch up on the talks held, including ours, and you can also download the presentations. In case you haven’t registered and would just like to get your hands on our presentation, we’ve saved a copy of the deck on SlideShare for you.

Some of my highlights of the conference were Vint Cerf (one of the “Fathers of the internet”) with a very personal story about digital accessibility, Haben Girma (DeafBlind Harvard Law Grad and inclusive innovator), Greg Williams (from Deque on ROI of accessibility), Gina Bharalkar (Forrester on Inclusive CX Imperative), Val Head (Making Motion Accessible), Neil Milliken (Atos on Treating Accessibility Like Pollution) Gareth Ford Williams (BBC on accessible typography), Thomas Logan (Equal Entry on the future of accessibility), Matthew Lukin and Derrin Evans (US Bank), Julianna Roswell (Canada’s COVID app accessibility), Alicia Jarvis (ScotiaBank on inclusion by design) and there are many more delights in digital inclusion we haven’t got through yet, but are looking forward to!

Some of my favourite academics talking together

Today I saw that one of my favourite leaders in inclusive design interviewed an absolute legend in the field. I quickly added it to my Sunday selection to listen to. Dr. Anthony Giannoumis, an Associate Professor of Universal Design of ICT from Oslo University interviews Prof. Jutta Treviranus who is Director and Founder of the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University, Toronto (where our Research Director Tom Studied).

This is a brilliant listen covering what is inclusive design (and how it differs from universal design), the value of insight at the margins of experience for improving solutions and identifying resilient breakthrough innovations, human bias against diversity and complexity, AI, and how the word “empathy” lost its mojo (but still has real meaning and value). It is a great kickstart for anyone wanting a powerful, engaging 40 min introduction to the topic, or for those more experienced in inclusive design wishing to be re-energised in our purpose. The link to Jutta and Anthony’s interview is here. If you have the time, enjoy some of Anthony’s other excellent podcasts also. I love that many are less than 10 mins. They have just one clear, well-illustrated thought, such as “See the Small” about creating the smallest feasible group to have an impact.

Design and creativity from this year’s virtual SXSW

Thanks to COVID, no travel to Austin Texas was required to go to the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival this year. I have always wanted to go to this hub of creativity, meshing entertainment, creative, digital and interactive industries along with leaders (known and emerging) across a broad range of fields. Up to now I had not quite found a good enough reason for the time and cost. This year I got there without even going there! As the festival timetable was still very USA-centric I could join the sessions from home. I mainly watched in the evenings, enjoying learning from creatives, digital innovators, entertainers, and leaders from many fields who presented there this year.

It was definitely worth the few late nights and dedicating some of this weekend to enjoy the sessions. Highlights included,

  • enjoying new XR experiences and hearing from many creators sharing their work as well as the process of creation, challenges and excitement about immersive formats. This was particularly strong during the week at the UK sponsored immersive festival “UK House” held as part of SXSW.
  • challenging, thought-provoking and reaffirming conversations around difficult topics. These included racial injustice, equality for people living with disabilities, and the roles (and limits) of technology. Many sessions also delved into how we can leverage the many challenges (social, health, environmental) that we are experiencing, to assess, reconsider and improve our communities, micro to global.
  • fresh creative ideas and solutions to interesting social or business challenges.
  • new music, film and immersive experiences from around the world.
  • I also really enjoyed travelling beyond the planet, to hear the NASA astronauts speak about experimenting as scientists and living beyond our world, outside of the forces of gravity on the ISS. I shared that one with my kids!

I’m not sure if any of the content is put in the public domain after the conference (it is a paid conference) but do keep an eye out for it, or consider joining next year.

Zero Project without the Viennese coffee and strudel

Last (but not least) is Zero Project Conference, usually held at the UN in Vienna each year. Traditionally in February, we go to join this excellent conference covering education, political participation, independent living and more. The Zero Project motto is simply and powerfully, “a world without barriers”. The approach is gathering innovators, researchers and those who can help propagate and scale ideas together to discuss and learn about ways that we can tackle the barriers facing people with disabilities across the world today.

This is one of my highlights of the year given the truly international nature and quality of the participants attending. It is always a great mix of seeing known friends working to progress disability inclusion from around the world, and meeting new leaders and innovators who I haven’t yet had the pleasure to get to know, learn from and share ideas with.  The live stream of the event sessions is not yet up but the link provided above will likely have it soon.

Yet to come, Mobile UX London.

This week it is Mobile UX London. It runs 22 – 26 March. Sadly we won’t be presenting there this year as so much is on. However, there will be many very interesting sessions considering how to design for the mobile phone in a way that is inclusive, compelling, efficient and enjoyable. A full festival pass is just £29 so if you are working on mobile digital designs or would like to be, have a look at the programme here.

What are you enjoying seeing, reading or listening to in inclusive design, creativity and innovation? Please leave comments below or share your favourite recent resources with us at contact@openinclusion.com.

Wishing you all good health and a happy Spring.