Becoming woke to thinking differently about design for disability

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Bad design is about more than just looks. For many members of our community, poorly planned design means they are unable to access the world. In the most literal sense. Unable to live independently or with dignity.

Companies that are woke to designing for inclusion are thinking beyond disabilities and impairments. They’re looking at access as a broader customer and community issue. They’re connecting with people with disability because they know with that person and their access requirements comes a large network encompassing support carers, families, friends and the broader community. What a great way to enhance customer stickiness, engagement and loyalty, typically tracked through the net promotor score or customer advocacy measures.

On this special International Day of People with Disability on the cusp of a new decade, companies need to do better in designing for access and inclusion from the start. Retrofitting technology, web sites, products and services is not just more expensive in terms of real project costs. There’s also the reputational impact with companies who don’t get it right having to face the court of public opinion and, in some instances, real courts through our legal system and the Discrimination Act.

Making real, positive and sustainable change

Clients often ask me what competitive advantage there is for their business by focusing on diversity. My answer: Get access and inclusion in its broadest sense right and you’ll be spades ahead of the market as accessibility in its broadest sense is good for everyone.

Those that are proactively thinking about accessible design are not just mitigating risk, they are using innovation to tap into new customer segments by creating products and services that benefit everyone.

Today as we celebrate International Day of People with Disability, a big congratulations to Australian Payments Network (AusPayNet) with the world-first launch of the ‘Guidelines for Accessibility in PIN Entry on Touchscreen Terminals – Supporting people living with vision and / or motor impairments.

As the consultant engaged to support AusPayNet with the development of this important document, it has been a pleasure to collaborate on creating positive change by developing industry guidelines for designing accessible touchscreen devices and seeking feedback directly from the disability community.

The Guidelines aim to support people living with motor and / or vision impairments with accessing the touchscreen independently and with dignity, enter their PIN securely when making purchases and have options which as far as possible create a similar experience and outcomes as for other users.

To quote Andy White, CEO of Australian Payments Network, from his foreword in the Guidelines: “Innovation in payment technologies including the use of touchscreens has provided many benefits for retailers, merchants and customers. However, with these new technologies comes the need to ensure inclusion and accessibility for all users. At AusPayNet, our vision is convenient and secure payments for all. Realising that vision means ensuring that as payment solutions become more convenient, they also remain inclusive and accessible”.

This, is what leading and sustainable change looks like.

So, as we shortly farewell 2019 and start a new decade, here’s to working to make more positive change in the next 10 years!  

Photo credit: Alex Iby on Unsplash

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