Not just a matter of design: Key issues surrounding the inclusive design process

Joy Goodman, Stephen Brewster, Phil Gray,

Preliminary Abstract

In order to create effective inclusive design, there are many issues that need to be addressed, not only issues of design itself but also questions surrounding the design process, from areas such as methodology, ethics and communication. If we are to address these effectively, we need to be aware of what they are, consider the options and think through their implications. By mapping out the space of these issues, we hope to raise awareness of them, encourage discussion and make progress towards some solutions.

This paper proposes such a space in the context of designing technological products for older people. However the issues are likely to be of interest and relevance to inclusive design as a whole. The paper draws on issues raised in panels, papers and talks at conferences and workshops in 2004. We organise these issues into eight key areas of concern and highlight some of the main questions in these areas: ethical issues; research methods; characteristics of the older population; the varied nature of this population; application areas; characteristics of suitable technology; communication between academia and industry; and underlying design principles.

We then sketch out some possible answers, drawing on discussions from a workshop involving 24 people from academia, industry and the older population with an interest in inclusive design. These participants responded to questions from all eight areas of concern and discussed three of these areas in greater detail. We also draw on our experiences on the Utopia project, investigating the design of technology for older people. Some answers are suggested, options described and their implications, advantages and disadvantages discussed.

We conclude that inclusive design is not just a matter of design - for it to be effective, many subsidiary issues also need to be addressed. By mapping out these issues, we have already made progress towards solving them, but there is still work to be done. We finish the paper by making some suggestions for the way forward.

One possibility is through discussion at the Include 2005 conference. We hope that the talk based on this paper will engage attendees and stimulate such discussion. Alternatively, the session could run in a workshop format, using a series of discussion posters and groups. Each discussion poster would focus on one of the key areas of concern, pose specific questions and allow room for people to add their responses and ideas.

The full paper

BibTeX citation

  author = "Joy Goodman and Stephen Brewster and Phil Gray",
  title = "Not just a matter of design: Key issues surrounding the 
inclusive design process",
  booktitle = "Include 2005",
  year = 2005,
  month = Apr,
  address = "London, UK",
  organization = "Helen Hamlyn Research Centre",
  publisher = "Helen Hamlyn Research Centre"}
Joy Goodman
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