Designing for Inclusion: Learning from the Ability in Disability

When we analyze our designs for disability, we spend so much time looking at the “dis” in disability and not the “ability” in it. This is because this is what the word is about - a lack of something. Indeed, the Latin prefix “dis” means “having… a negative or reversing force.” When we do this, however, we are missing valuable insights that can be gained by also looking to people with disabilities’ abilities.

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Opposites Attract in UX

I recently sat down with NPR’s design team to discuss their user experience. Those of you who know that I am deaf might be scratching your head. NPR is an organization that has positioned itself heavily in the audio realm. So for them to look to a deaf designer to help them with their UX may seem a little…well, weird. But it is exactly where they should be looking. We learn in design thinking that we should be looking to extremes to help us uncover our most interesting and valuable solutions. And hearing loss is the exact opposite end of the audio focused spectrum.

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