Design education and industry currently use tools and processes that are inaccessible for many people with disabilities. While design is a very broad activity that can encompass many ways of knowing and expressing, the way designs get made and translated into a tangible outcome is usually through defined processes and specific software and tools. Due to the inaccessibility of these software applications and processes, an entire group of people cannot access design in a way that is acknowledged and validated. Current processes and tools actively exclude learners with disabilities from learning design, and relegates people with disabilities to be the ones designed for, rather than the ones designing. This is a huge loss since people at the margins have lived experiences that often inspire the greatest innovation.
Design is a future-creating activity. If we’re hoping for a future that fosters a plurality of perspectives and finds commonality across all of it, we must have the means to understand the ideas and designs of everyone. Having inclusive design tools and practices is key for including currently under-valued and underrepresented voices in this future.
Our goal is to research and brainstorm inclusive design tools and processes that are accessible to all people with disabilities. So far, we’ve hosted a design crit within the Fluid community to discuss existing design tools and brainstorm what inclusive design tools could look like. We will continue to connect with interested people in the community to brainstorm together. You can track our progress and access our documentation on our project wiki.
If this is something that you’re interested in and passionate about, please reach out to us. We’re especially interested in hearing from you if you are personally affected by exclusionary design processes and tools.