7 Takeaways about Inclusive Design from Interaction Design Latin America

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From 10th to 12th November I attended the Interaction Design Latin America 2021, a virtual conference organized by members of World Association for Interaction Design IxDA and held in Costa Rica. The following takeaways about Inclusive Design come from the conference “Participation, ideation and inclusion: technology design process with people with intellectual disabilities.” Thanks to its authors, Rosario Muñoz Araya and Katherine Exss Cid, for sharing the learnings they have built working on inclusive research projects.

1. Inclusive design and co-design

Inclusive design proposes changes to the usual design process in which the designer makes decisions on behalf of his users. Co-design and inclusive research seek to identify the needs of people and consider many different aspects of human diversity.

2. Interdisciplinary work as a starting point

Interdisciplinary work enables collaboration from different perspectives. Some of the disciplines that make up inclusive design groups are design, special education, linguistics, sociology, and engineering.

3. The importance of working with "experts by experience"

It is crucial to work with advisory groups. In this regard, people with disabilities are “experts by experience.” Inclusive design starts from the needs felt and detected by the end-users, who are these “experts by experience” with whom it is appropriate to work throughout the design process.

4. "Nothing about us, without us."

This phrase comes from the emancipatory currents of people with disabilities. It claims that people with disabilities should not be investigated without them being at the center of the investigation.

5. We need more accessible design tools

Some languages and tools aim at incorporating the user in co-design processes, however, most of these tools and methods have an accessible approach only for designers to understand the needs related to disability. For example, there are lenses to simulate vision loss or gloves that recreate the reduced functional capacity of the hands. These are methods to empathize with a disability, but not necessarily to include people with accessibility requirements in the design processes. It is necessary to question the design methods generally used to involve users to design processes because these may not be accessible, and thus leave out a relevant part of the population.

6. The importance of cognitive accessibility in participatory methods

Cognitive accessibility encourages everyone’s participation from a universal design point of view, allowing contribution in a creative environment. Intellectual disability is related to thought processes or communication skills, which affects memory, abstract thinking, and interpretation of social codes. Precisely, these are fundamental skills for participatory methods. Tools such as speculation and play are appropriate for working in participatory settings with people with intellectual disabilities. The immersion and fiction components are essential to creating a participatory environment for people with this type of disability.

7. PiX: Interaction notation for UX design

PiX is a visual language to graph interactions between users and systems. Conveys a sequence of moments from left to right and enables the coordination of the elements that make up the user experience while interacting with digital services. It is structured in 3 layers:

The person layer: intentions, desires, emotions associated with the service or the object with which he is interacting.

The dialogue layer: represents the interfaces, the inputs generated by the user, and the outputs received.

The system layer: these are the functionalities that occur in the backend.

PiX can be used as a universal and inclusive method to facilitate the co-creation process, regardless of the diversity of the participating public. The resulting scores represent the group’s agreements reflected in the flow of interaction.

Conference authors

Rosario Muñoz Araya

Object designer with a major in interaction design from PUCV. Current student of the Master in Architecture and Design under the investigation “Form, Culture and Technology” at the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile.

Katherine Exss Cid

Graphic Designer from PUCV, MA in Information Design from the University of Reading, UK. Current student of the Doctorate in Architecture and Urbanism at the Universidad del Bio Bio, in Chile. Founder and co-leader of the local chapter of the World Association for Interaction Design IxDA Viña del Mar.

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