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How Inclusion Shapes Design

MIT Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

There’s a compelling business and moral case for inclusive design; get practical advice on how to achieve it.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening
  • Inspiring


Kat Holmes takes an underserved component of the diversity and inclusion genre and does it great justice in this slim volume. Though often overlooked, inclusive design has the potential to change the world. As Holmes points out, it already has through inventions such as touchscreens and email – originally designed to aid a small minority of disabled users – that now serve as standard tools for all. Nevertheless, most design continues to exclude, intentionally or not. Those involved in creating products will find a compelling and urgent case for inclusive design and practical tips for getting there.


Conventional design yields tools and technologies that many cannot use easily or at all.

Countless technologies and consumer products – from phones and computers to cars and elevators – pervade every aspect of daily life. Millions – sometimes billions – of people from every imaginable demographic use these devices, but their creators almost always designed them to suit a so-called normal or average user. No such person actually exists.

These designs suit almost no one well and their designers leave a fortune on the table by excluding millions or billions of potential customers. Products for the mythical norm create a mismatch between the design of tools and technologies and the optimal ways people should interact with them.

Design that excludes harms people psychologically and physically.

When people encounter common instruments – whether the size of the text on a set of instructions, a touchscreen checkout terminal or a smartphone – whose design excludes them, they may adapt, but will feel excluded. Adapt your designs to users, rather than forcing people to adapt to them.

Those hoping to design ...

About the Author

One of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Kat Holmes founded and leads, where she advises firms on inclusive design.

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