When trying to make your design process, products and people more inclusive, there are many topics to consider. Diversity in your team can help make more accessible products, for example, which can counter systemic racism, ableism, sexism, ageism, etc. This page tries to cover as many topics as possible to learn and think about, plus preferrably to act and improve on as a designer/team.
Designers love debating about what design is, but for this website it might be defined as creating products, services, systems and spaces with a certain intent. It’s especially approached from the academic and industrial design point of view, with a human centred approach.
Racism, equity, intersectionality, etc.
The Conscious Kid has a great page focussed on some key terms relating to racial literacy. They’ve also listed a lot of steps on how to be a co-conspirator, which might be good to work on personally.
The toolkit for Inclusie describes ‘inclusion’ as:
“making sure all humans can participate in society, regardless of their diversity in physical, cognitive (including lingual) and psychosocial capabilities, and the circumstances under which they live.” – translated from Dutch from Wat is ontwerpen voor inclusie?
Kat Holmes describes it from a different perspective in her book Mismatch, where inclusivity concerns recognizing who is left out and what causes those mismatches. This is also reflected in Microsoft Design’s Inclusive Design methodology.
One way to describe or define accessibility is the following:
“Accessibility can mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. But specifically for people with disabilities accessibility means, usually, having access to products and services and spaces that normally present barriers in the way that our society designs or constructs or architects these types of spaces.” – James Rath
Additionally, it might concern making those spaces accessible for people with lower budgets or different cultural or lingual backgrounds, and more.
You can also think about accessibility while focussing less on abilities and more on access, as “Access is (or should be) universal, regardless of ability.” – Dan Eden
Cultural misappropriation and similar terms have varying definitions depending on the context and cultures concerned. The most succint definition I found, which seems to fit many situations, was the following:
“the appropriation of elements of a subordinated culture by a dominant culture without substantive reciprocity, permission, and/or compensation.” – Richard A. Rogers’ definition of Cultural exploitation
However, to get a better understanding of the concept and its problems, Nicole Phillips’, Nadra Kareem Nittle’s, Maisha Z. Johnson’s and Eden Caceda’s articles might help.
Bias is defined by The Conscious Kid as
“Refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.” – Racial Literacy: Key Terms
As those biases exist in people, they are likely to transfer to products in general, but especially the datasets and algorithms used in those products.
Design history, values and work in the West,
- are built upon the colonization of other nations,
- exist within a system of privilege and oppression,
- and have partly been appropriated or stolen.
Decolonisation is then a process about realising design history and experience are not universal, about not (mis)appropriating design elements, and about creating space for designers outside of the Western norm, among other things. – Summarised from What Does It Mean to Decolonize Design?
However, this concept is still understood differently among people. Anoushka Khandwala expanded on her article mentioned above in “Decolonizing Means Many Things to Many People”—Four Practitioners Discuss Decolonizing Design. There is also a really extensive decolonizing design reader, started by Ramon Tejada
- Alonzo Felix compiled an anti-racism guide (which isn’t necessarily design oriented, but relevant nonetheless).
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Diversity & Inclusion: learning basics – AIGA
- [NL] Wit Huiswerk is a collection of general resources for people who want to be active in the fight against racism.
- [NL] The Dutch podcast Brutale Klimaatvragen has an episode on ‘diversity in the climate world’.
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