On 16 October the innovation charity Nesta launched an Inclusive Technology Challenge with a prize of £50,000.
They are looking for “innovation in products, technologies and systems that enable disabled people, their families, friends and carers equal access to life’s opportunities. Innovations must involve co-creation with disabled people and can relate to any aspect of life including, but not limited to, education, home, leisure, transport and work.”
You can find out more about the Inclusive Technology Prize by following this link:
When I told my friend Claire that I was writing some principles on Inclusive Design for our service she asked me how they would differ from those that are already available on the internet. I replied that mine would be specific to museums and heritage sites. There is more to it than that though. For me Inclusive Design goes beyond Universal Design, which focuses mainly on usability for disabled people. It is also concerned with age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, language, etc.
Inclusive Design is a process, not a finished product.
It aims to produce things that are user-friendly for people with a wide range of needs.
It begins with the questions “If we do it this way who will we be excluding?” and “How can we do it differently so as to include them?”
Testing with a wide range of potential users has to be done at every stage in the project, to avoid costly and embarrassing mistakes.
There is no place for assumptions or guesswork in the Inclusive Design process.
You can read about the principles of Universal Design, which were developed in the 1990’s by following this link:
What do museums need to do to become truly inclusive?
Aim high: We should use an inclusive design approach to everything we do. However, as we are not used to doing this I think we need an interim set of benchmarks for all new exhibitions and displays.
Here in Bristol we already have pretty good physical access, but that is not enough. We need to provide better opportunities for people to engage with exhibits.
At the very least I think all new exhibitions and displays should have the following:
- Inclusive audio content for all visitors
- Sub-titles on all audio-visual displays
- Integrated and coherent handling opportunities for all visitors
- Large, high contrast/clear print for all written interpretation
- Confident, well trained staff and volunteers to act as guides/facilitators