Design Philosophies

There are several different philosophies in accessible design. They all share an interest in fostering a culture of accessibility for everyone and in all settings. They vary in their priorities and approaches to solutions.

Inclusive Design
Microsoft’s Inclusive Design principles are all about changing the environment to include everyone by learning from diversity. The main focus is to adapt to the diverse environment by building considerate inclusive guidance that benefit people universally.

Inclusive Design Toolkit
University of Cambridge’s Inclusive Design Toolkit dives deep into design decisions. It tries to broaden the understanding of performance indicators, user diversity, defines and compares Inclusive Design and Universal Design.

Universal Design – Wikipedia
After learning the basic definition of Universal Design from the previous resource, gather an in-depth understanding of the concept through this Wiki. It has a wide range of information ranging from principles and goals to design standards and design for all philosophy.

Universal Design: Process, Principles, and Applications – Sheryl Burgstahler
Professor Burgstahler’s publication stresses on disability as one of the many characteristics of an individual. So, it takes into account the other characteristics that make up the user. It also considers other users who can benefit from an inclusive design or environment.

Ability-based Design from Jacob Wobbrock, U. of Washington
In his presentation on Ability-based Design, Dr Wobbrock shines spotlight on assumed ability assumptions made in designing. This, in turn, places focus on the burden of disabled users having to adapt to the technology. Dr Wobbrock also emphasizes on the need for inclusivity in existing technologies, or building “separate but equal” technologies that perform the same as mainstream ones.

Accessibility First, Whitney Quesenbury
This piece in the Universal Usability column by Whitney Quesenbury puts a focus on thinking about accessibility first. It talks about building in accessibility at the code level to successfully remove barriers. It also brings many usability problems that need to be addressed for smoother accessibility for all.

Easy Checks for Web Accessibility, Shawn Henry
In Easy Checks for Web Accessibility, Shawn Henry gives a checklist of simple items to understand if accessibility is addressed or not in a web page. This list can even be used by someone with no knowledge of accessibility. From basic elements like page title, headings, color contrast, resize text, etc. it moves on to more complex elements like keyboard access, forms, multimedia, moving content, etc.

How to design for accessibility
BBC’s Global Experience Language guidelines address the why and how of accessibility design. Starting with acknowledging impairments and diversity, the guide lists the key considerations for accessible design. It also shows how to convey accessibility considerations and perform efficient user testing.

A Research Approach from Dr. Richard E. Ladner
This link contains a list of Dr. Richard E. Ladner’s publications on a myriad of topics dealing with accessibility. The publications focus on accessible technology for the deaf, blind, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing people.