Is Accessibility in Design a Barrier to Innovation?
Let's Debunk the Myth. 😎
Accessibility in design may not sound like the most exciting topic, but did you know that it can actually be pretty funny?Okay, maybe not slapstick comedy, but the innovative solutions that come from creating accessible products can be pretty amusing.Take, for example, the "Talking Moose" software from the early days of the Macintosh computer. This software was designed to help visually impaired users navigate the computer by "talking" to them and providing audio feedback.However, it quickly became a hit with non-disabled users as well, thanks to its quirky personality and silly jokes. Who wouldn't want a moose cracking jokes while they work?
Creating inclusive solutions that drive innovation
While the design of the Talking Moose was pretty clever, it's not the only example of how accessible design can be used to improve innovation. Take, for example, the Amazon Dash Button.The Amazon Dash Button is a small device that you can place in your home to order groceries from Amazon. When you press the button, it sends a request to Amazon's servers to place an order for your selected items.One of the things that makes the Amazon Dash Button so great is its design. The tactile button is designed so that people with disabilities can easily use it. In addition, it's easy to add additional buttons to your home if you want to start ordering more groceries from Amazon.So does focus on inclusive design always hinder innovation? No, in fact, focus on accessibility will not force designers into a box; it can actually drive innovation and help everyone by making products more accessible and easier to use.And by designing with accessibility in mind, we can come up with truly innovative solutions that benefit all users.
Accessibility is NOT a barrier against innovation
It's important to remember that exploring accessibility from the start will not be an inhibitor of new ideas, in ux or product design. In fact, it can be quite the opposite: thinking about how to make a product accessible can inspire innovation in a design team.By designing products and services around accessibility, we are forced to think creatively and come up with solutions that work for everyone.
Universal Design is Inclusive Design
Universal design is a great example of this. Universal design challenges us to create products and environments that can be used by everyone, regardless of their abilities or limitations, improving the general user experience.Users come in all shapes and sizes and different groups of users will have different needs: some have cognitive disabilities, some are deaf or hard of hearing, some are blind or visually impaired, or use a wheelchair or other physical disabilities. There are already available solutions to those with accessibility problems, such as a screen reader, color contrast or AI helpers like Alexa and Siri. You can fit these into your design to improve accessibility and create a universal, human-centered design.But why stop there? Innovation is about a design that will push the limits of mainstream technology to make people's lives easier and find new ways to interact with a product or service, to create a more open world.Automatic doors, for example, were designed for and met the needs of disabled people and are now omnipresentIt's time for businesses to embrace accessibility as an opportunity for growth and creativity.As Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, once said, "Accessibility is a human right. And with every new technology, we have the opportunity to expand the circle of people who can participate in society."By designing for accessibility, companies can tap into new markets and reach a wider range of users. They can also differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering inventive alternatives as a way to provide benefit to all users.
Accessible Design as an Inspiration to Innovation
Did you know that touchscreens were initially developed as an accessibility tool for individuals with physical disabilities?However, they quickly became a standard feature on smartphones and tablets, revolutionizing the way we interact with technology. And thanks to their accessibility roots, touchscreens are incredibly intuitive and easy to use for all users, regardless of their abilitieThis approach challenges designers to think outside the box and create solutions that benefit everyone, not just the needs of people with disabilities.Another example is the development of closed captioning for deaf individuals, which has also benefited people who watch videos in noisy environments, such as airports or coffee shops.Voice recognition technology, initially developed for individuals with speech disabilities, has now become a common feature on many smartphones and smart home devices.Another way accessibility can inspire innovation is by pushing designers to find new and creative ways to solve problems. When faced with limitations in design, designers are forced to think outside the box and find new solutions. This creativity can lead to new and exciting innovations in design.For example, the design of the first typewriter was initially created for individuals with visual impairments. This invention revolutionized the way people communicate in writing and sparked a new industry that has continued to evolve and innovate.
Embrace Accessibility to Help Everyone
Let's not forget that accessibilitEveryone deserves to have equal access to the technology and environments around them, and creating a barrier-free environment is an important step toward achieving that goal.Plus, it's a chance to get creative and come up with solutions that not only benefit those with disabilities but also improve the experience for all users.So, let's challenge ourselves to think outside the box and traditional design standards. Who knows, maybe we'll discover the next "Talking Moose" or touchscreen along the way.Most importantly, let's keep in mind that accessibility and inclusion are not just good for business or innovation, but the right thing to do.So let's make a barrier-free online and physical environment a priority in our design using accessibility guidelines and relevant design systems, an