The Inclusive Design Research Centre Is Making Learning Better for Everyone

May 26, 2011

Have you ever thought about how a blind person might use the Internet? What about a deaf person, or someone without the manual dexterity to manipulate a mouse and keyboard? As the focus of our digital lives moves away from being all about entertainment and becomes increasingly important for business and other tasks, how can we make sure some folks aren't being left out? The Inclusive Design Research Center is already taking things like this into consideration.

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By Sarah Wright

What Is Inclusive Design?

When you think about design, you probably think about the aesthetic and practical considerations that are part of the process. What you may not think of, though, is the consideration of who will use what is being designed, and how. As any left-handed person can tell you, products and tools aren't always designed with everyone in mind. Inclusive design seeks to change this by incorporating a consideration of human diversity into the design process. But rather than focusing on physical products, inclusive design focuses on making digital materials more accessible.

Inclusive design is similar to universal design in that both schools seek to improve accessibility through design. However, inclusive differs from universal in that inclusive design focuses on digital creations, and wants to address a wider range of disabilities and differences than universal design.

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About the Inclusive Design Research Centre

The Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) is an academic division of the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). OCAD is located in Toronto, Canada. The IDRC works to promote design that doesn't inherently exclude people with certain disabilities. Through research and development, the center creates digital design products that are compatible with people of any ability, language, culture, gender or age.

While working to define and promote inclusive design, the IDRC advocates for inclusive design techniques to be incorporated into standard web development. To this end, interested designers can take a free online course about the how and why of web accessibility. The IDRC also offers a master's program in inclusive design for design students who want to focus on ensuring that the digital future doesn't exclude people with disabilities.

If you are interested in learning more about inclusive design, you can visit the IDRC website. Additionally, the IDRC supports and participates in a variety of open informational techniques, including open access publishing. The center has made information about inclusive design easy to access in order to further the goal of making the digital world open and available to all kinds of people.

The push for accessibility goes beyond design - accessibility in sports is also an important issue.

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