Inclusive design: how to make social distance more accessible?

As we talked about in our article on inclusion and innovation, thinking about design to guarantee and encourage everyone’s participation in the social, economic, cultural and political spheres is one of the most important topics today. In times of a pandemic, inclusive design becomes even more essential to avoid a greater number of infections by

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As we talked about in our article on inclusion and innovation, thinking about design to guarantee and encourage everyone’s participation in the social, economic, cultural and political spheres is one of the most important topics today. In times of a pandemic, inclusive design becomes even more essential to avoid a greater number of infections by the coronavirus. In this article, you will learn about some examples of brands that have sought creative and efficient solutions to help more and more people. Check out!

Opportunity to rethink concepts and processes

Although the numbers are already sufficient to motivate the engagement of brands in the struggle for accessibility – according to the “National and International Panorama of the Production of Social Indicators”, published by IBGE, in 2018, people with some type of disability represent 6.7% of the population, only in Brazil – thinking about a design project from the perspective of inclusion is still a very recent trend.

But the coronavirus crisis has sped up a number of processes worldwide and the creation of affordable products and services was one of those insights. For some brands, this moment represented the opportunity to review concepts and processes, with a focus on what really matters: people’s well-being. For this reason, they broadened their perspectives on users, mobilized resources and dedicated themselves to creative and efficient solutions.

Inclusive design: initiatives that benefit everyone

One of the issues most evidenced by the pandemic was the importance of technology to keep in touch with loved ones, facilitate everyday tasks, make the home office feasible and provide us with a range of study possibilities and new hobbies. But what about the elderly population, one of the groups that most struggle to use technological resources and are one of the main risk groups for coronavirus contamination?

For Joseph Coughlin, founder and director of AgeLab, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) laboratory dedicated to aging, “technology means empowerment, but we have to install, teach and maintain.” With that in mind, the CanalTech website released a free version of its online course, Vovô Tech (Grandpa tech in english), with three classes that teach the elderly to master basic smartphone features through highly didactic video lessons.

The Hand Talk team also put their ideas at the service of accessibility. As soon as the first cases of coronavirus arrived in Brazil, in March 2020, the app team – which translates audios and texts in Portuguese into the Brazilian Sign Language (Libras) – produced a video with prevention tips, expanding disseminating essential public health information to people with hearing impairments, a very effective way to help prevent further contagion.

Everyone needs to be in the game, especially when it comes to reducing the spread of the coronavirus. And the solution can be very simple and low cost, as the American designer Michael Soleo proved when creating a facial mask with transparent material on the lips, allowing people with hearing impairment to continue using lip reading in contact with other people – a important resource for them to interact with supermarket cashiers, for example.

How to develop more inclusive and innovative solutions?

Did you like the previous examples? Good news, because your brand can also commit to creating an inclusive design project to help people in times of pandemic (and always!). This process involves understanding the different symbolic and semantic references of the user, getting rid of assumptions and expanding perspectives. Learn how!

1. “Rethink the disability perspective”

This advice from August de los Reyes, Pinterest’s design director, can transform your point of view. He states that the disabilities are not the result of mental or physical differences, but, rather, an incompatibility between the user’s abilities, the environment in which he is inserted and the objects with which he interacts, that is when “the disability is projected” . Learn more about this idea in the TEDx video:


2. Get rid of prejudices and assumptions

People with disabilities are not limited to their differences in skills. Mike “BrolyLegs” Begum, for example, was born with arthrogryposis and acute scoliosis and is a standout in the Street Fighter players community. He consecrated himself using the character Chun-Li, known for demanding a lot of techniques, and won the EVO 2017 tournament, one of the biggest in virtual fighting games. Check out this story in the video:

In the context of the pandemic, a different look causes even more impact for the world becoming accessible and that everyone has the right to social distance with a good quality of life. For this, brands need to rethink their products and services based on an inclusive design, which goes through a more attentive and empathetic attitude towards the needs of its audience. And is there a better way to work?

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