Book cover of Inclusive Design for Products by Prof Jonathan Hassel

"Inclusive Design for Products" by Prof Jonathan Hassel

Ferrari decided to change their design, specially to have door that are easier to get into by their elder segment. Did Ferrari decide to be more inclusive out of the blue? No, they decided to do that because it was GREAT business. They saw that most people who could afford their cars were aging. 

The story comes from the book "Inclusive Design for Products" by Prof Jonathan Hassel. 

Besides that interesting story, what I found even more shocking are the stats the book shares. These are for the UK in specific, based on 2019 numbers where the total UK population was 66.9 million:

- Total people with a disability in the UK: 13.9 million. That makes for 22%, yep you read that right, 22% of the overall population.

- Aprox. 11 million people in the UK have a hearing impairment.

- 6.3 million people are dyslexic. As a side note, who came up with the name for dyslexia, honestly? Do you have any idea how hard it is to write about my own disability? Spelling that takes effort!

- 4 million people have difficulties using their hands, which in turn makes it hard for them to use standard keyboards or mice. 

- 3.5 million people have a mental health condition.

- 2.4 million people have difficulties with memory or concertation.

- 2 million people have a learning difficulty. 

- 2 million people have a visual impairment.

- 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum.

- almost 75% of people with disability have more than one condition. 

The list goes on.  

It comes as no surprise that due to the prejudice in the market, and equally unequitable interview process, set-up, etc, people with disability are twice as likely to be unemployed than people who don't have a disability. They are also less likely to be able to afford things like eating out, or going to the cinema. Not only do they have on average a lower income, but life is more expensive for them too - an average £570 more to be exact. 

The rest of the book focuses on how to design inclusive, accessible products. I encourage you to read it in full, but here are some of the questions to ask yourself when building a product.

1) Who is using your product? 

  • Define the widest possible range of users
  • How are people with disabilities going to use your product? How are you going to research that aspect? Note, the Microsoft Inclusive Design Website which you can access via this link: Microsoft Design provides some useful resources for personas and the personas spectrum
  • Is your product personalized to the individual or generic?

2) What are your users' goals and tasks?

  • What is the purpose of your product and what are potentially accessibility associated challenges?
  • How are people with disability going to potentially use your product?
  • Is the experience going to differ depending on device? Examples on a phone versus a tablet, etc

3) What are you users needs from an accessibility perspective?

  •   How will you identify the accessibility needs of your audience for your intended product and its use?
  • What is your success criteria when it comes to level of accessibility?

4) What are your accessibility requirements?

  • What technology are you going to use?
  • Are you going to develop it in house, outsource it?
  • Who and how will do the accessibility testing?

5) What is your design approach and how do incorporate accessibility into it?

6) How do you plan for release risks?

7) What is your communication plan regarding accessibility? 

8) How do you ensure accessibility is part of future product updates?

I found reflecting on these questions to be a very powerful exercise, one that I encourage you all to do. As one of my friends says "You have HOMEWORK!" 

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