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Inclusive Design Advisor: Understanding the Design Practice Before Developing Inclusivity Tools

Emilene Zitkus, Patrick Langdon, and P. John Clarkson

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 8, Issue 4, August 2013, pp. 127 - 143

Article Contents


Incorporating inclusive design advisors into computer programs already used in the design industry could be a viable way to integrate inclusivity and accessibility concepts and practices into the design process. Supplying demographic-specific knowledge about inclusion could be an effective way to help guide designers and their clients to see how designing more inclusive products can help their sales. Because, as we discovered during this study, the design process is often a trade-off between different client-driven priorities and requirements and the practicalities and costs of designing and manufacturing a product.

There also could be further investigation into ways to help designers and clients understand the benefits of universal or inclusive design. To accomplish this, there could be future studies that interview clients and observe client/designer meetings to discover the fundamentals of such relationships. Putting the client/designer dynamic into context may highlight how user requirements influence the design process and vice versa. Also, understanding the clients’ motivations and requirements could clarify how an inclusive design advisor tool should and could work to inform clients and designers of inclusive design practices.

In this study, we examined the current industry design practice with the intention of developing or implementing an inclusive design tool. However, the results of this study show that the current non-adoption of accessibility evaluation tools is a systemic problem. Based on our interviews and observations, we discovered that it is not common for clients to include accessibility requirements into their product requirements. We also discovered that designers often do not evaluate accessibility or usability unless they are required to by the client. Therefore, to break this cycle it is necessary to work on different fronts: Design software plug-in tools to help clients and designers see the value of inclusive design, and provide information about the value of inclusive, universal design by investigating the client/designer dynamic and investigating to see if and how higher education presents and teaches inclusive, universal design to see if improvements can be made.


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