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Talking about the future of Inclusive Design at the Global Inclusion Online Forum

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

The Global Inclusion Online Forum (GIOF) is one of the most popular events worldwide that talks about us: people.

How we feel, how we spend our time, and how we interact with other human beings are driven by factors such as the feeling of inclusion, the ability to access places, services, and technologies, and the opportunity to understand the diversity of human beings just to name a few.

Last winter I had the pleasure to receive an invitation from the organizers of the GIOF to present to a few thousand participants the work I’ve done with my team at the University of Cambridge to help companies to build more inclusive teams and spaces.

On May 19, 2022, I presented the results of the research as well as a small demo of the tools I developed to boost creativity and inclusion in the design process and to help companies assess the level of inclusion diversity equity and accessibility of their employees.

In one of our recent studies, we found that accessibility is overall recognized and embraced in architectural design practice, however, the adoption of Inclusive Design is limited so far. Another challenging factor that was discovered brings attention to the limited level of education and awareness that designers, architects, and clients have regarding Inclusive Design. As a result of this biased perception, the scarcity of client awareness was understood as the dominant driver of the insufficiency of clients’ requests and the limited design of inclusive, accessible, equitable buildings.

These and other data were presented to the audience that showed a strong interest to know more about the causes of the lack of inclusively designed spaces, objects, and even teams of people.

One of the questions from the audience was raised by Michele M.:

“Great presentation. My question is about the differences between what the system/organization perceives to be the “right” thing to do (e.g., in terms of inclusive design) and the subjective perception of the single actual individuals using that space. How do we manage emerging discrepancies between these two perspectives?”

This was a great question that leads to a thorough detailed explanation, however, to keep it short it is important to build the business case for inclusive design at every level: from the leadership to the other employees.

To do that there is a need for data that inform the strategy, and these data can only come from people, not from sensors. That's why we strongly believe in interacting with real humans, by leveraging the power of ethnographic research and understanding at a granular level what people feel, what they perceive, and where there are pockets of exclusion.

In summary, the GIOF has been a great event where people from across the world and business leaders met in a forum to exchange ideas, spark conversations and raise awareness that we are all different but we all deserve an opportunity to feel included.

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