Inclusive Design Practice

Over the past 8 years I have taken my design approach of strong usability and accessibility to a new level, with an extremely tight focus on inclusive (universal) design. While some designers might lament the need to address accessibility, my perspective is one of appreciation for any challenge that pushes a designer to creative and technical innovation.

It is thanks to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) creation project that I had the opportunity to establish and champion the internationally recognized inclusive design practice of the museum. This position saw my in a role that oversaw inclusive design (universal design) and accessibility across the construction project, the design and development of the exhibitions, all media design and production, software integration, policy creation, operationalization of the institution, and more. Not only have I been fortunate to create technical innovation, but the most satisfying result has been establishing a corporate culture that is highly sensitive, aware, and accustomed to addressing any project or problem from an inclusive design perspective. This ensures the sustainability of the practice beyond any single champion.

A main difference distinguishing design from art, is function. Design typically has a function to perform – a poster delivering a message, an interface providing access, a logo identifying a company, a product addressing a need, a package protecting and delivering a product, etc. Many designers will design something and then attempt to make it accessible. This inevitably leads to either compromise – compromise on design intent, aesthetic preference, conceptual integrity, or experiential initiative, or to an inaccessible outcome. Beginning with an inclusive design methodology will ensure that these compromises need not happen, while a more usable product can be enjoyed by all.

At the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, I have led not only the development of a corporate practice, but have realized several design successes. A couple of these unique design projects are detailed in the Portfolio section of this web site (accessible design).

For a comprehensive story about the establishment of the CMHR’s inclusive design practice, please see this article published by the American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM) NAME Exhibition Journal: article.

In the coming months I’ll include a link on this page to the Canadian Museum for Human Right’s extensive inclusive design and accessibility standards (which is presently in aggregation, design, and production with an anticipated publication date of summer 2017).