Every day, millions of people try and fail to do the things that the majority of the population takes for granted. Dr. Anthony Giannoumis illuminates the importance of having the right human in centre in the design process and stresses the importance of awereness.
I believe that designers want to reach everyone. They want people to fall in love with their work. They want to create elegant solutions that solve day-to-day challenges. They want to show off the amazing things that they have created.
Designers do not actively want to exclude anyone. Yet, everyday an older person who is losing their vision struggles to access their online bank account. A woman asks her smart speaker the same thing repeatedly and it fails to recognize her voice. An immigrant is not sure whether he has sent his doctor the correct information because the website is not available in his first language. And there are millions more, every day that try and fail to do the things that the majority of the population takes for granted.
Although designers have good intentions, they are unaware of the struggles, the pain points, and the areas of friction that marginalized people experience when they try to use their products. Although they may practice human-centred design, they have put the wrong human at the centre of their design. Although they may try to empathize with their users, they have failed to show compassion towards the millions of people who are excluded, under-represented, or actively ignored by traditional design processes.
We need awareness. We need to design solutions that everyone can use equally. We need universal design. May 28th 2021 is the first annual Universal Design Day. Innovators, entrepreneurs, and knowledge creators throughout the world will bring attention to the benefits of universal design for innovation and entrepreneurship. It is a turning point in the over thirty-year history since the invention of universal design and an opportunity to look to the future.
I believe that universal design can change the world. If you want to learn more about my work as an action researcher, social entrepreneur, and equality advocate, subscribe to the Universal Design in Life and Work podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, or visit my website.
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis
George Anthony Giannoumis is an Associate Professor of Universal Design of ICT at the Department of Computer Science at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet). He is an internationally recognized expert in universal design of information and communication technology (ICT).