Inclusivity is as much a mindset as universal design, albeit with a broader goal. Inclusivity is the policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. This includes people with handicaps and learning disabilities, as well as diverse populations and minorities. For example, by designing for users with bad internet connectivity, we are being more inclusive of those who are unable to afford high speed internet connections.
Complete Beginner’s Guide to Universal Design, UX Booth, Editorial Team
While as user experience and design professionals we often use personas in our design process, in my experience rarely do we consider users with different abilities. UX Booth uses the term Universal Design to remind us that age and ability, both physical and mental, impact our experiences.
Accessibility and Universal Design
The UX Booth team describe how the terms “accessibility” and “universal design” are often used interchangeably. These terms differ in scope however.
- Accessible design focuses on the needs of people who are differently abled
- Universal design is focussed on all peoples needs
Take an elevator for example. A wheelchair lift is an example of accessible design. An elevator which is usable by parents with wheelchairs or small children, people moving large furniture, or just people who are tired and want to take the stairs is example of universal design,
Designing with Universal Design in Mind
Access for all should be an invisible component of Design, not a grudging afterthought
Access for All, Universal Design, Intelligent Design for the Right Reasons
If we wish to design with Universal Design in mind then we should be creating inclusive personas that consider a range of different user abilities. But, how do we measure Universal Design? Well as with most things in the user experience profession when it comes to Universal Design, usability testing really is the best way to evaluate an experience.
The key though is to recruit people who represent a variety of ages, mental abilities and physical abilities in the target user group.