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Accessibility and Inclusive Design/Content Development

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Inclusion is concerned with maximising audience. Accessibility is concerned with minimising barriers for people with disabilities. Usability is concerned with ensuring products are usable by humans.

Individual disciplines exist for a reason, none of them are subsets of the other

Content Notes

Two aspects: Good Design and Discrimination.

What is Inclusion?


"The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure" - Oxford Dictionaries

"all people should be freely and openly accommodated without restrictions or limitations of any kind" - Keys to Inclusion

"Inclusion is the educational practice of educating children with disabilities in classrooms with children without disabilities." - About Education

"It is generally accepted that "Inclusion" means inviting those who have been historically locked out to "come in"" - Inclusion Network


Accessibility may a subset of Inclusion but without that focus on people with disabilities their needs may be lost in the broader approach.

Inclusion is about ensuring equal opportunity for participation.

Digital inclusion concerned with ensuring that everyone is able to engage with digital services. Exclusion could be as a result of limited access to internet or technology, lack of skills, lack of confidence, or barriers with technology.

Origins in the built environment?

Creating products and services that are usable by the broadest audience regardless of social, economic, cognitive, physical, by age or gender.

Does not specifically relate to people with disabilities.

About reaching as many people as possible.

As a concept, inclusion, is present in many disciplines such as architecture, urban planning, and education. Conceptually digital inclusion is concerned with ensuring that digital products and services are created in such a manner as to allow greatest use by greatest range of people. This may refer to specific audience needs, such as older people, or to particular functional limitations, such as low bandwidth. The motivations for adopting an inclusive approach may be business related, or an acknowledgement of known needs for core audiences. For example, a supermarket may aim to ensure that their on-line service is easy to use by as broad a range of people as possible. A news service may concentrate on providing as light-weight a delivery as possible, as they know the vast majority of their readers access the service on their mobiles.

  • General audience needs
  • Not necessarily responding to all user needs
  • Might be focused on business goals more than user needs
  • No clear standards
  • Understanding of term varies by domain
  • Accommodations may improve the product for people with disabilities, but there is no guarantee

What is Accessibility?

Accessibility focuses on people with disabilities — people with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual impairments.

Creating (online) products and services that are usable by people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.

More specifically considers how barriers are introduced for people with disabilities by poor design or development decisions.

Why should it be a separate discipline?

About ensuring an equivalent experience for people with disabilities.

Web accessibility is specifically focussed on ensuring that the needs of people with disabilities are considered when creating digital products and services.

  • Focuses exclusively on the needs of people with disabilities
  • Standards available on what needs to be done
  • May be a requirement in law
  • Accommodations can bring about broader usability and technical improvements for a wider audience

Overlap and differences

Can't necessarily do accessibility in isolation. Best considered as a requirement of the broader inclusive design.

Accessibility will help with inclusion as it will highlight usability issues.

Accessibility could be seen as a subset of inclusion, and in a sense it is. Both are concerned with ensuring that the needs of specific audiences are addressed to maximize usage. However, where inclusion aims to

Need for both

  • Need to specifically highlight designing for people with disabilities to avoid discrimination
  • Increasingly complex interfaces
  • Increasingly busy lives
  • Increasingly older population
  • Increasing number of people with disabilities(?)
  • Increasing number of digital only services