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Editorial: Designing for Diversity: Inclusive Design as a catalyst for change?

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Editorial: Designing for Diversity: Inclusive Design as a
catalyst for change?
NICKPOUR Farnaza and DONG Huab
aUniversity of Liverpool
bTongji University
doi: 10.21606/drs.2018.014
This session aims to review contemporary contexts and new dimensions of design for human
diversity, and explore the state-of- the-art in research, design and policy-making in this area. Within
the past three decades, the concept of design for inclusion (also referred to as Inclusive Design,
Universal Design or Design for All) has witnessed recognition and growth as an important and
relevant area of practice, research and policy-making, contributing to overall quality of life.
However, as the field matures and as we face rapid and complex socio-demographic, economic and
political challenges, the need to revisit the core concept of design for inclusion, and to enhance its
theories, scope and applications, becomes increasingly urgent.
This sense of urgency is clearly highlighted as we extend our definitions and dimensions of design for
inclusion beyond the conventional age & ability axes. The contemporary societal context we operate
in, presents us with complex cases of diversity and exclusion far beyond physical or sensory ability.
Lifestyle exclusions such as obesity and diabetes, gender and sexual orientation diversity, invisible
disabilities and neurodiversity, and social mobility are all pressing examples of such diversity. On
another hand, the focus of inclusive design, research and policy-making needs to extend beyond
physical accessibility. Thus, moving from ‘physicality’ to overall ‘quality’ of life, exploring non-
physical and psychosocial elements of inclusivity.
On the other hand, the rapid growth of social networks and makerspaces facilitated by recent
advances in ICT and rapid manufacturing, allow for innovative designs to be created, tested and
made by a significantly larger part of society including extreme users, hobbyists and entrepreneurs.
Social Product Development paradigms (including crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and mass
collaboration) together with accessible home-use design and manufacture kits (3D printing etc.),
could act as catalysts for inclusive design. This could pave the way for a new era of user co-creation
driven by the people, not the enterprise, handing over the power to control inclusivity to the user.
This all builds a strong case for inclusive design to embrace and explore the full spectrum of ‘human
diversity’ - if it is to act as a catalyst for change. This well aligns with the theme for DRS 2018,
exploring and questioning the role of design as an agent of change. Hence, the Inclusive SIG this
year, has adopted a more critical and reflective approach. This is intended to question the status
quo, highlight the current state of the art and outline future opportunities for inclusive design,
research and policy-making. The scope and focus of papers selected under three main streams in
Inclusive SIG 2018, well reflect this priority.
The first stream called ‘Advancing Definitions & Methods’, presents an excellent range of latest
definitions and methods for inclusive design. In ‘Capturing and Communicating Individual Narrative
Timelines to Reflect Real Life’, the authors capture the many human sides of the concept of
retirement using empathic qualitative method of narrative timelines. In ‘Evaluating Inclusivity Using
Quantitative Personas’, authors build a strong case for use of quantitative personas as a tool to
better capture design exclusion. In ‘Numeral Legibility and Visual Complexity’, the authors present a
rigorous process and investigation of engaging with textual information. In ‘Beyond Accessible
Aisles? Psychosocial Inclusivity of Shopping Experience’ the authors argue for the need to define and
detail concept of psychosocial inclusion, moving away from physical accessibility as the only measure
for inclusion.
In ‘Redefining Diversity’ stream, we discuss an impressive range of cases which demonstrate the
wide and varied the dimensions of diversity. Moving beyond the conventional, we delve into cases
ranging from kids, to citizenship and self inclusion. In ‘Seeking for Diversity Among Young Users’ the
authors build the case for children’s photography and discuss use of photography as a tool to engage
and include children. In ‘Smart Citizenship: Designing the Interaction Between Citizens and Smart
Cities’, the authors address the critical topic of human centred design of our future smart cities,
aimed to accommodate and facilitate inclusive interactions between their diverse inhabitants. In
‘Are two thumbs better than one?’ the authors adopt a philosophical approach to exploring the
concept of diversity and inclusivity, questioning the very foundations of inclusion. And finally, in
‘Design for self-inclusion: supporting emotional capability’, the authors present yet another
interesting angle on inclusion, initiated and owned by the individual, exploring the concept of
agency, ownership and self-inclusion.
In ‘Assistive Futures’ stream we specifically focus on new technologies as catalysts for inclusive
design and explore the intersection between technology, assistive devices and inclusion from
perceptive, collaborative and practical points of view. In ‘Investigating perceptions related to
technology acceptance & stigma of wearable robotic assistive devices’, the authors present useful
insights in regards to adoption, rejection and overall perception of smart wearables amongst older
adults. In ‘A Study of Roles and Collaboration in the Development of Assistive Devices for People
with Disabilities’, the authors discuss the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the design
process, specifically focusing on interactions between clinical experts and designers. In ‘Designing
Play Equipment for Children with Cerebral Palsy’ the authors discuss the context and report on a
useful set of guidelines for designing play equipment for the children.
We hope the divergent and forward thinking presented in Inclusive SIG2018 papers, stimulates
questions, insights, and a drive to move forward - collectively and forcefully.
... By investigating barriers to inclusion, it aims to bring those extreme and excluded users into the mainstream and create innovative solutions that include and benefit all. 48 Contemporary ID looks beyond disability, ageing and physical accessibility, 49 considers psychosocial dimensions of inclusion and exclusion, and places value on quality of life and experience. 50 An example of ID applied to oral health is the redesign of Jordan toothbrush packing. ...
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Challenges and trends such as person-centred care, demographic shifts, and technological advancements are transforming modern oral health systems. Inclusive design and human-centred design are disciplines highly relevant and potentially instrumental to these oral healthcare transformations. This paper provides an overview of the definitions and characteristics of inclusive and human-centred design, which centre on understanding people’s multifaceted needs, expectations, behaviours and relationships, and engaging with diverse and often excluded populations. Design’s broad capabilities are outlined across outcome and contribution types, and the potential role of inclusive and human-centred design to oral health is explored by outlining its relevance to key transformational, societal and technological shifts. Finally, barriers and drivers to the adoption of inclusive and human-centred design in oral health are discussed around three themes; awareness and understanding of the role and value of design; disciplinary differences; and the wider healthcare systems context.
... Furthermore, Nickpour and Dong [19] highlight the need to extend definitions and dimensions of 'inclusion beyond the conventional age & ability axes'. Other than the ability variation, Waller et al. [24] suggest an understanding of diversity could be broadened to real-world contexts, lifestyle, aspirations, gender, and past experiences. ...
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