‘Inclusive Design’ Defined

‘Inclusive Design’ Defined

In an interview with Fast Company, product designer, Kat Holmes, shared a most excellent way to think about ‘Inclusive Design.’


“I took a look at the words ‘inclusive’ and ‘exclusive,’ and the root of both is ‘clud.’ It’s Latin for ‘to shut.’ To shut out. Thinking of that mental model, of ingroups and outgroups, I thought maybe there’s something wrong with the mental model in our language.

In my book, I ended up writing about exclusion first, because everyone, universally, says it’s the same thing. What is exclusion? It’s when you’re left out! Exclusion became the sharp point that allowed me to talk about inclusion.

I’ve now evolved my thinking to consider exclusion as a specific way to embody inclusive design. That may be as close as we get to a definition….

The thing with inclusive design, and the nuance that doesn’t come through, is that it was always about including excluded communities in the design process–not marketing to people with disabilities.

It’s not, you’ve designed something for a female population, and therefore it’s inclusive. It’s, did you involve someone in your design process who was previously unable to participate?

How you get there is what makes it inclusive, not that it’s targeted at an underrepresented or underserved community…

Inclusive design is a process, not a result.”

~ Kat Holmes

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