Micène Fontaine, July 12, 2022

“No pets allowed.” Who would have thought 3 words on a sign would be a deterrent to women coming in to seek shelter in a place designed to make them feel welcome and safe. If you listen to theHidden Brainpodcast, you already know that it was indeed a deterrent. There was a “mismatch.” Women who had found the courage to leave an abusive situation often left with children and the family pet. Was it an oversight or a flaw in the design process? 

In contrast, you have designers like Cas Holman. “Design for Play '' is the title of the Netflix documentary dedicated to her work. In the episode, she shares her creative process and the care she takes in imagining the various ways in which kids could intuitively engage with a single toy. It involves a lot of time thinking like a kid and observing kids engage with various prototypes. Cas Holman’s approach to design is fundamentally about inclusion. It removes or lowers as many barriers as can be for as many end users (kids in this case) as possible from engaging with the task at hand (play).

Inclusive design is not about compliance with existing accessibility standards. It is a given that the solution should - at the very least - meet these standards.  Instead, inclusive design is about identifying where the frictions are in a particular experience across as wide a range of users in as wide a range of situations as possible. While inclusive design started in the digital world and was primarily concerned with user interface and user experience, it has long since been adopted as a design approach for products, services, and the built environment.

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