You are certainly reading this through a screen thanks to the holy web today,
I hope the design will be comfortable enough for your eyes.
The web grew as a mirror of our society to the point of having so much impact that it shaped our whole world. Some measures allow us all today to have easier access to the internet. It is even part of pop-culture. However, we are still designing online products as a printable object and therefore putting aside the uniqueness of this medium. Some are selling creative website performances and technical show-offs, and some are reminding us of the importance of human-centred experiences. Whatever is our aim, method or beliefs, as designers, as benevolent as we can be, we do our best to launch the best product. But even with our highest determination, inclusivity and accessibility are often the last boxes to check on our list. It is not a priority for all.
Through this paper, I am replying to: Why can interaction design be more inclusive? First, I will introduce and expose the causes and reports of the current situation (as it is seen from Europe).
Then, through my readings, interviews and the ocean of tricks to follow I found, I will explain why including consciously seems complicated, perhaps even impossible. And finally, I will dig into the improvements we can make as people, designers, teachers and even governments.
Internet today links us all. It allows us to find information, stay in touch and now more than ever, work from home. States like the United Kingdom chose to help its development in the early nineties, and it inspired creators and companies. With the increasing use of the web, having a glance at all the content is impossible, but we can point out recurring practices in websites, mobile apps and video games.
Creating a website became an unavoidable step to reach more people. Anyone with access to the internet and a computer can put together digital content, create a one page and publish it.
It explains the diversity of the websites and apps it encounters : public institutions’ showcase, e-commerce platforms, forums, brand websites, portfolios, blogs ... Social networks occupy a very special place on the web, they became part of our everyday life and even played a role as the trigger of certain social movements. Who would have thought that simply having access to Facebook or Twitter would have killed dictatorships for instance ?
Nowadays, nearly everything can be done digitally, even governments allow us to complete procedures online rather than on paper. Not being able to access those platforms became a real handicap. States’ website could count today as the most accessible content websites. Service designers and UX designers are working on making them the easiest to use.
The United Kingdom’s government even added a page to point out to the users what was not accessible yet and allowed them to give their feedback.
For a few years, we can also observe the increasing launch of immersive and playful websites. Inspired by the video game experiences and design, they outperform the simple idea of a web page and appear as technical thrill gems. Nevertheless, they do not usually use all the progress and ideas game designers would have thought of.
The video game industry is a good example for its creative process. Its starting point gathers innovation as well as adapting to the user. A lot of games allow the users to disable settings like ‘motion blur’ and ‘camera shake’. Most of them let the players customize the controls to fit their needs. I can’t help but observe that this is not a standard practice on the web. In fact, AAA Games, games with a higher marketing budget and resources, focuse on accessibility to reach more players and earn more money. They target people with disabilities. The World Health Organization estimates that 15% of the world’s population lives some form of disabiliy.
And as AAA games and indie games can inspire each other and exchange processes and ideas, accessibility became a common question, even a milestone.
Interaction Design involves creating products people will use. We should not ignore the social and political grounds, aspects and impacts of our creations. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to split our work from the way we see and experience the world. In a globalized world like ours today, the society we live in implies interacting and sharing with each other all the time. What if the world was not designed for you ?
During my research, I discovered that some articles were written in the late nineties and early 2000s to make an effort as designers on accessibility. It seems like the internet did not take that turn. Jakob Nielsen warned us to design more accessible websites in 1996. 1 4 years later, in April 2000, in an article titled « A Dao of Web Design », John Allsopp explained that designers still wouldn’t see the web as it is. They still design for print and screens the same way, implementing print limitations in every web page. Those articles were written more than twenty years ago but the issue of Inclusion is still more alive than ever.
I dug into the word «Inclusion» first, then in its different meanings depending on the context.
Oxford Languages defines Inclusion as : 1 - the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. 2 - the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.
Inclusion is semantically the antonym of the word exclusion. Both are Latin rooted and were built on the word «cludere» which means «to close», «to prohibit the access to». Those two questioned concepts evolved through the centuries.
For instance, the sense of exclusion was discussed and defined during the 17th century by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal as «to reject one thing as incompatible with another». Progressively, sociologists took the question over and added a context to the concept of «exclusion». They entrenched to it the idea of a power balance between the society and the individual.
Vulnerability is a concept clarified by the sociologist Robert Castel in his writings 1 on social inclusion. He defines vulnerability as the summation of all the social parameters of an individual (gender, origin, age, social group, etc...) that differs from the social settings of the social majority. That concept is linked to the weakening an individual or a collective is exposed to, as well as its risks, that could lead to social exclusion. In other terms, we can only be different compared to someone else and those differences can be the main reason to be excluded from a dominant group.
Now that I am aware of those possible differences and what they can imply, I am ready to go back to the definition of inclusion. During my research, a definition especially caught my attention. In the famous French dictionary Larousse, inclusion is defined as the act of integrating a person or a group, to end their exclusion. I then realized that «inclusion» and «integration» were used as synonyms, even though various institutes and structures distinguish these terms.
This graphic is massively shared to highlight that subtlety :
I also wondered about the distinction between inclusivity and diversity. What is the difference between a diverse team and an inclusive team for instance ? Vernā Myers, vice-president of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix, explained it as : «Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.» on her website.
The A11y project1, a reference in making digital accessibility easier, specifiesIntegration allows an individual to access a space, whereas inclusion provides the right and the freedom to be there. Inclusion also implies that the effort comes more from the society than from the individuals themselves.
«Accessibility is important. Inclusion is essential.
Without representation, it is impossible to understand, much less effectively make accessible digital experiences.
In addition, accessibility work is oftentimes done after the fact to great expense. Inclusivity asks people making digital experiences to consider early and often what barriers and biases might keep people from being present, and what they can do about it.»
This means that to make inclusive experiences, we need to consider and expect the impacts and outcomes and act towards fixing them before launching the product.
An interesting fact I also encountered in my research is the function Inclusion can have. It can be a process, and it is called digital inclusion or e-inclusion. This process aims at making the information online accessible to everyone for both economic and social ends. It reaches for solutions to reduce the digital divide, that is, the inequalities (or if I dare use the concept of «vulnerability») in the access to both the material and the experience of the digital world.
More tangibly, The e-inclusion seeks to reply to material needs by providing better internet coverage or giving access to informatic tools, as well as the need to understand how it works by educating people to The Information and Communications Technology. The needs are generally the same but the programs and ways of deploying them change depending on the country, whether it is in Argentina, France or Ghana.
Those measures aspire to ensure a certain autonomy towards online information. And that acquired autonomy can eventually ease the social and economic inclusion. As professionals working on an online product, we play a role in this process.
We can’t deny that, in some ways, we hold a responsibility towards the user when sharing information on the web.
During my research, when talking about this paper, I discovered that numerous designers distinguished Accessibility from inclusion as two different entities. It struck me to learn that accessibility was seen as the right thing to do to include people with disabilities whereas inclusion was seen as something so global and political.
But as Mike Monteiro once wrote :
«Design is always political».
I see accessibility and inclusion articulated this way :
Poor internet connection
Old hardwares & systems
Languages & dialects
Disabilities may they be :
Whether I referred to accessibility or inclusion, some people still frowned and told me that it was either too complicated to do or too boring. But as Design and the web are still evolving and expanding fields, new methods are emerging, and ideally, we should keep up, simply because it is our job. Some of these methods even encourage concrete solutions. First, I will dig into design thinking, circular design and inclusive design. Secondly, I will look at the dilemma and responsibility the artistic director or the user interface designer (UI) has to deal with this. And finally, for this second part, I will try to explain the issues and methods a developer has to go through to include in his products.
For this paper, I had the opportunity to lead three interviews to help me understand why inclusion seemed so complicated to incorporate.
I will refer to my interviewees as : Ross, for the able cisgender man and creative director of a digital agency ; Chandler, for the able non-binary transgender interaction designer in freelance ; Joey, for the deaf cisgender interaction design student.
Numerous designers, studios and more famous structures developed principles and prescriptions to follow for an inclusive website, that is, some practices exist and could be applied.
Nowadays, design thinking is talked about everywhere in the «design world», it is the process and the prescriptions to follow to create innovative products and services. It is usually shown as a five-step method :
These steps are also the basis of the methodic approach of Design Sprints, which is a condensed way to find a solution to your design problems in 5 days. It shows great results especially if the team already knows the subject, the context and the issues.
I always found the first step rather curious. But it is indeed thanks to it that the Design Thinking method manages to include the user as a human, with all their complexity, in the products’ study and creation process.
Debbie Levitt, CEO of Delta CX, designer, CX and UX strategist, explains in an article that Design Thinking is not user experience, she questions the role of empathy in the design thinking process. She wrote
« You’ll often see that step No. 1 is done by asking yourself to describe what the user is feeling. This is more likely to be an expression of sympathy or intellectualizing on the customer’s experience. Only through proper user research can we know what the user is feeling or experiencing. All things beyond that are essentially guesses, assumptions or arrogance, which should not be part of the process. »
Empathy still plays an important role to include consciously in our products. It is the mechanism that comes before the initiative to include.
Neuroscientific discoveries of the 2000s show that, as humans, we evolved to connect with each other. Our brain has mirror-neuron which allow us to understand the actions in front of us as well as what they feel and their intentions. We can even mimic and reproduce their movements and facial expression, which is called motor empathy. We can also read in these articles that we can train our empathy.
A whole branch of research at Microsoft works on Inclusive Design, and they offered us inclusivity toolkits. In one of their booklets, they define Inclusive design as « A design methodology that enables and draws on the full range of human diversity. Most importantly, this means including and learning from people with a range of perspectives. Designing inclusively doesn’t mean you are making one thing for all people. » They explain that this methodology allows us to create different paths for a same experience so that anyone has the power to participate. It comes first by understanding who is excluded and how. By acting for inclusion, we can allow individuals, who are unable to participate in certain social aspects (physical and digital), to do it with a sense of belonging.
There are 3 principle steps :
→ Recognize exclusion
→ Learn from diversity
→ Solve for one, extend to many
The booklets Microsoft gave away count activities based on those 3 steps that you can add to your user researches, your conception phase in general, or your user tests.
Mike Monteiro wrote « I intend to show you that design is a political act. What we choose to design and more importantly, what we choose not to design and, even more importantly, who we exclude from the design process—these are all political acts. »
Another method based on circular economy inspired me, it filled me with hope. What we call circular design is a way of designing by thinking ahead on the products’ impacts, including from the beginning responsible choices of resources, conception, fabrication and use. Tim Brown, from the IDEO agency, explains that this way of designing is the opposite of how our linear economy works right now. Instead of creating a product, launching it, let it die and begin a new one from scratch ; he is encouraging us to see our launched product as a resource. This way of thinking is a great economic, social and nature-friendly opportunity to stay in touch with the current context.
One of my interviewees said :
« I think that nowadays, we have difficulties to see interactive products as organic entities which change and evolve, just like a body depending on his needs ».
Design systems can be a good start for preventing a project to crumble from A to Z.
From the interviews I led, I heard that there was a lag between the roles of a UX and UI Designer. Their roles can be either not taken that seriously (thinking they are quite the same), or so distinct that the UX does not correct the UI and the UI is not helping from the beginning of the conception.
The first draft of the user experience, the architecture of the system, empathizing with the user is on the UX designer’s shoulders, even though all of this will evolve and change when the UI designer and the developer will work on it. It should not be the responsibility of the UX designer only because : including or not including is political (from the point of view of the users), more than an economic choice (from the point of view of the client and design teams), especially if the product is online and accessible by everyone.
The facade of the product is what the users experience first.
Everyone’s visual taste and references are different. Our work will never appeal to everyone. Our role is to create recognizable and understandable designs. Inclusive design is not the end of your creative drive, it is more than ever a more ethical framework.
In the field of UX, the ideation step is usually bursting with ideas and none of them is owned by anyone, the team’s role is to grow it. Nevertheless, it does not happen the same way with graphics. The ego of the visual creator is still present in the conception of a product. But UI designs also should be tested. Thinking side by side with a UX designer can be the opportunity to develop a design system and moreover, UI design can be tested to adjust it to the product’s target. It can be hard to hear that what you created is not clear enough, but we should not forget that this product is aimed to be used by others after all. Documented Concepts and decisions made thanks to user tests are more powerful than any selling point.
My interviewees had very different point of views. The only common point was the fact that changing the routine of an established team was more expensive than simply following new inclusive methods. From the questions I asked, I noticed that having issues while surfing on the web was also related to that moral imperative to include.
On one hand, Ross highlighted the lack of time, budget and the implication of the client, as well as reducing the impact of the digital experience in the name of accessibility. On the other hand, Chandler explained that inclusion in digital products was a question of motivation and priority (you can be inclusive even with less time or money).
He quoted Swiss graphic design to counter the idea that accessibility can’t be aesthetic ; and that designing a responsive website was time-consuming, but we should all do it, so why wouldn’t we use more time for inclusion ?
He explained to me that handicap was not an on/off status but a spectrum and then adds that it is more accurate to talk about situations of handicap than disabled people in the framework of accessibility.
Throughout my readings and interviews, I found useful concrete tips anyone can try to follow.
→ Before the design itself, make sure the content is simple and not too hermetic to understand.
→ If the content is written in a living language that questions inclusive writing, use the inclusive writing if you can.
For languages like French, German or Spanish, every word is grammatically gendered. Every language deals with inclusion in its own way. We talk about gender conscious language in German by using the neutral pronoun for everyone.
In Spanish, we may refer to mixed-gender groups or non-binary individuals by adding the ending -x instead of -a, -o, -as, -as. For instance, Latinos and Latinas would become : Latinx.
In French, you can write it in different ways too. If you want to write the word : All, which is «Tous». Tous is grammatically plural and masculine and Toutes is grammatically plural and feminine. Every plural is considered masculine if it counts more than a man or a masculine noun.
So you can either say : Toutes et Tous, or Tou·te·s, or even Tout le monde (which would mean everyone and is called : epicene writing). It depends on the context of use and to whom are you writing.
→ If at some points you need your users to fill a form, explain to them what information you need and why.
Don’t rely on your habits : Don’t ask them things you don’t need about them and don’t limit what they can select or write.
In a lot of the forms today, the name input counts a limited input of characters, if your name is composed of two or more words, if it is too short or too long, it will be a problem for you.
If your name is composed of multiple words, in most of the cases, you can find it either shortened to the first word or linked in some grammatical way. If your name is only composed of two letters, you would not even be able to fill in the input properly.
If you identify as non-binary, or if you were transitioning, how would you fill in that part of the form where usually you can only choose : male or female ?
When I asked Chandler about the problems he encounters when surfing on the web, this is the first response he gave me : « I am transgender and every time that I am asked to choose between male or female, it’s really complicated because I identify as nonbinary. This distinction exists in some countries but not all of them. [...] I have troubles understanding why they would ask me this question, systematically, by habit, even though they obviously don’t need to know. »
→ Have in mind to create an alternative navigation with a keyboard.
We can look at the example of YouTube. A discrete button appears once you pressed the Tab key, it allows you to skip a full navigation bar fixed on the left of the screen and choose directly from the suggested videos.
→ Delegate some UI control to the user. Allow him to manage the typeface’s height, the typeface it-self, the contrasts, the colours, the links’ highlights...
If you add those features, still make sure that they don’t discriminate by reminding people in a situation of handicap that they are.
I want to quote Joey who told me « This initiative is so useful, but it can be discriminatory because we remind to the use of his hard excluding situation ».
→ Add subtitles whenever you use audio content. It may be time-consuming, but it is not a waste of time.
Joey is begging you too and Microsoft is saying that if you solve that for one deaf person, you will also solve it for people in that situation of handicap, those on their phones in the public transports, or even for those who will ignore your content simply to listen to their music. I recently managed to add this feature for any social audio-visual media in the agency I currently work in.
→ If you represent or stage humans in your products, make sure not all of them are part of the dominant social group.
You do not have to show every single minority, just show the world as it is.
As Chandler told me « Our society is composed of people we like to hide for whatever reason and I think it is important to stage them more because … they are here, they exist. »
→ Think of an alternative text for every picture you will use.
It will benefit people who use screen readers as well as those with poor internet connexion for instance.
→ If you are making a website in different languages and alphabets, choose a typeface that everyone can read and a proper height, make your research.
Don’t use any typeface that looks like the original one you chose simply for aesthetics.
→ Make sure your text does not overlap an animation.
Margot Gable, a designer from Build in Amsterdam, adds that you need to create motion designs which last less than 5 seconds and don’t let them interfere with anything to read.
→ If you use Artificial intelligence for facial recognition, make sure it works with every human, whatever is their skin tone.
Recent research showed that feeding AI programs with non-diverse images and information led to biased and racist programs.
This list of tips is a starting point you can consider before testing and launching your products.
I was intrigued to know what people who code can do to minimize exclusion too, and I discovered an ocean of useful websites with resources that I am glad to share with you.
The creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, founded in 1994 the most important web organization : W3C, World Wide Web Consortium. Its purpose is « Developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the Web. »
The W3C guidelines and especially the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) became the basic reference when talking about accessibility. You can find a list of open-source resources as a designer, or a developer.
They created accessibility standards, levels you can measure to know how accessible a website is. They registered those levels as A, AA and AAA, going from the minimum required for an accessible content to the level you need for a specialized support.
If this isn't met, assistive technologies may not be able to read, understand or fully operate the page or view.
Required for multiple governments and public body websites.
This is typically reserved for parts of websites and web apps that serve a specialized audience
Another tool, the A11y project (read as : the Accessibility Project), is an open-source software that stages accessibility AND INCLUSION. They provide design and development resources as well as a checklist based on WCAG, quick tips and tests. They present this platform as «a community-driven effort to make digital accessibility easier.»
The system of checklist is present everywhere, a website accessibility is even «quantified» by Lighthouse (a tool for developers made by google) by analysing some aspects of the code and the content. Even though it does not check everything, it can definitely help to notice some basic accessibility problems before even testing the website.
By talking with developers I learned about a method of writing code called : Progressive enhancement. Since then, I did not stop mentioning it to every coder I met. My professor, Louis-Jean Teitelbaum who is a creative technologist, even told me «It is an old method, that we should use. But nobody really does... Even though it seems to be the right way to code for the web !»
Louis-Jean also explained to me that nowadays, new creative developers who specialize in technical show-off websites weren’t usually using Progressive enhancement but : Graceful degradation. They make the best product they can, then adapt it to fit in the accessibility guidelines.
On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, African startups and organizations decided to find other solutions to satisfy their needs. By focusing on local problems, they used the material they had to innovate and find solutions based on recycling and educating young ones to programming. For instance, Africa Tech, a renowned festival, is aiming to Unite Tech and Talent for a Socio-Economic Impact. These measures allowed the continent to rise a little more and some major occidental companies are implementing new digital centers (thank you, Orange) or expanding the e-commerce field now. Mastercard just decided in January 2021 to launch a digital payment platform for the MEA (Middle-East and Africa) ! I wonder how things will evolve, is it good for the continent itself ? Will it complicate diplomatic relationships ?
Digital low Tech is one of the replies for going against an imposed «occidental» capitalist system. It is a sustainable, accessible and useful approach to innovation. It is mostly based on recycling and designing the most ecologically possible.
Some initiatives like Kris de Decker’s website are so low energy consuming, that loading them became easier and faster than usual websites. That ecological drive helps people. Designers should try to look into it too a little more. Not every problem needs a high tech solution.
Throughout my discoveries, I understood that acting for inclusion in online products can happen on different levels. It is definitely more than just an effort we make at work from 9am to 7pm every day. We can find ways to improve ourselves as individuals, creatives, teachers (and even governments).
If we never encountered any recurrent problem due to what we are, it can be difficult to understand that others do.
During our interview, Chandler told me «I would like the world to acknowledge its diversity... But we have well-implanted archetypes and very limited representations of the world.» And Joey explained to me that what was more important was : awareness-raising.
We can’t blame people for not knowing, everyone seeing the world through his experiences. Not all of us have the opportunity to meet different people and be open to various issues. So it is important to go directly to them.
It reminds me of the issue of the position of an ally in activist movements. What can an ally, so a person who is not directly concerned by the problem, do to fight for the LGBT+ cause or the Black Lives Matter movement etc… ? The reply we hear the most is : highlight the voice and pitch of a directly concerned person and share it with their network. It helps to legitimate the issue and the discourse and hopefully make a change.
Inclusion in our society is an emerging political issue. And some people are taking it more seriously by going toward people who are different from them and their close ones. This idea may imply including them in Society by helping them and accepting their help in return.
The generation taking over today seems more engaged and more willing to change the system. All my interviewees were hopeful that the emerging generation of aware adults will fight for more equality, more eco-responsibility and less blind and alpha leadership.
« You should be the change you want to see. If everyone puts a little energy in that direction (inclusion), eventually, new standards will emerge because new expectations will emerge. » Chandler
To help launch inclusive products, a solution can be to notify every creative team member that they have an impact on the product, whatever is their position in the pipeline of work. Whatever is our position, we are responsible for the product we launch online.
For instance, an aware coder or designer is developing a new online product. They ask themselves if the product is as accessible and inclusive as it is. But will they act on it if they think they don’t have an impact ?
As an immigrant young female student working part-time in a big digital agency, I directly surrendered to not being heard. I thought that my advice or my work wouldn’t be either legitimate or heard. But the day I understood that my work was still having an impact on a public, I did the best I could to convince of the importance of Inclusion and helped build new ideas and new ways of doing.
For this particular point, a freelancer could experiment and change his method, faster and easier than a much fuller team that relies on their best practices and routine to simply satisfy the clients’ needs without questioning it.
Sometimes the «method» is here to help include a diversity of users, sometimes the team itself can help make all this true.
In his book ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It, Mike Monteiro wrote : “ Empathy is a pretty word for exclusion. I’ve seen allmale all-white teams taking “empathy workshops” to see how women think. If you want to know how women would use something you’re designing, get a woman on your design team. They’re not extinct. We don’t need to study them. We can hire them! ”
Mike Monteiro is right in a sense that, having a much diverse and inclusive team, can also prevent going into a dominant exclusive path. If those team members know they have an impact on the product before it is launched, they will not let you go there.
If you cannot change your method, a potential solution can be to hire people different from you and give them a sense of responsibility.
As changing routines is the most expensive, challenging the root of the routine can be considered.
I studied in the public schools of Applied Arts in France and I learned a lot of different things. They taught us about typography, colours, geometry, and their histories. The only references of accessibility notified us to : use sans-serif to read comfortably on a screen for average people and use colours that daltonians can see. It is like the issue did not exist at all.
As inclusion is now a more ‘famous’ issue, a solution can be to add chapters or even a course that explains the whole world of accessibility. If a student’s dream is to design public institutes’ websites, why are they not prepared to do so ? Why do they have to discover a whole new part of design by themselves ?
Nowadays, if you want to know more about accessibility, you can choose to contact accessibility organizations to teach you how to do it. You could write to associations like access42 for workshops for you and your team. Or, if you are in France, you can send them the link of design.numerique.gouv.fr and benefit from their timid initiative for more digital accessibility.
Teaching inclusion in colleges and universities can help spread awareness and democratize the solutions. While the effort is conscious, it will seem complicated to follow the guidelines. Teaching it could lead to automatic inclusion reflexes, hence something easy to do. Inclusion could become so basic that the term itself won’t have to be used.
During my interview with Ross, who worked a lot for the city of Luxembourg, taught me that in the Grand-Duché, an accessibility controller is in charge of checking public websites. Whenever his studio has a project in the public sector, he follows all the guidelines. On the other hand, he also told me that if he had to launch a fun project for himself, he would not make the effort to make it accessible.
If some feel the moral imperative to make all their online projects inclusive, some do not, and not even for public institutions.
Some countries decided to take measures against disabled peoples’ discrimination and some of these count laws that framework its digital aspect. Amongst all the countries, around 25 changed their laws to make their websites more accessible. The European Union definitely helped some of them to do so.
Laws and other policies are usually based on the WCAG.
At the moment I am writing this paper, these are the countries/Unions that W3C mentions on their website:
Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, TheEuropean Union, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, The Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The United Kingdom and The United States.
We could also count Argentina, Iceland, The Phillippines and other European countries like Belgium or Luxembourg amongst them.
The W3C even has a page to help develop organizational policies on web accessibility. Nevertheless, the protocols differ depending on the country.
For instance, in the UK, you need to add a page to the website explaining to whom it is not accessible. In Luxembourg, you need to fill an accessibility declaration for every mobile app or website you create through their national digital accessibility portal.
It is also noticeable that the majority of the countries who took the turn are relatively wealthy. We can say it is a matter of financial priority.If the laws exist, governments should work in that sense. For instance, in France, I had to face a duality in their own public websites, it seems like the existence of the law is not enough.
On one hand, lastly, they employed a «UX commando» to revisit their websites and procedures. On the other hand, the procedure to recover your residence permit implies that you have to make an appointment through a website with a timer. As an able digital native, I had to do it twice. What about those who have fewer chances than I do ?
States play a role in pushing towards inclusion. Making their online services at least accessible is as important for them than for the web and the users themselves.As the official Belgian web accessibility highlights :
« The public targeted by accessibility is not only made up of people with disabilities, it is everyone’s business! »
Online interaction design products can be more inclusive because, as they are nowadays, they are designed for a specific target, putting aside the rest of the world who has access to it.
The inclusivity issue on the web was already discussed in the nineties, but the internet did not evolve towards it. This issue is still deeply social but far from being socially anchored yet.Some management and design methods can help solve a part of it in the product’s conception. During the production, every member of the creative team involved can focus on making the product inclusive, from its façade to its hidden structure. It seems complicated or impossible to some of them because their effort is too conscious yet.
To facilitate those ways of doing and including, changes need to be made on different levels. Individuals need to be more sensitized to what is happening around them. Members of creative teams have to understand what is their responsibility and their impact through their creations. Institutions that shape future creatives can help democratize inclusive solutions by teaching them these methods. And states can framework the online products through laws to exclude less.
At the beginning of this study, I was looking for a way to give my future projects a more accessible and ethical aspect, I was especially looking for tricks I could use and share. Now I understand that as a freelancer, a team member or a team leader, inclusion will most likely be part of the first boxes to check on my list. Even if it means taking more time to raise the awareness of the clients and the people I am working with, as well as sharing some methods with my pairs.
Inclusion is more than a marketing argument. And as Gandhi said « Be the change you want to see in the world. »
As we saw that including on the web was political, can it be a way to advocate for it ? And as I am writing this, I am wondering... What impact can digital activism really have on our society ?
I will be updating the references page everytime I find something interesting towards inclusion.
You will find : the books, articles and websites I used for this thesis; as well as new links and readings.