The difference between Inclusive Design and Accessibility

If you’re familiar with what we do here at Eone, you probably know that we’re an inclusive design company, known for our feature product, the Bradley timepiece.

But what is inclusive design? And what’s the difference between inclusive design and accessibility? We’d love to tell you more about our design philosophy and why it’s important!

Two things we really care about are good design and inclusion for people with disabilities. What started as a simple problem shared between friends blossomed into Eone: a company with a social mission to create beautiful, functional products that meet the needs of as many people as possible. And that’s the core of inclusive design.

The Problem With Good Design: Why Good Design Isn’t Good Enough

The truth is that “good design” considers the best form and function for some people, but excludes many people on the basis of ability — and individuals with disabilities are often left out. We want to change that.

We’ve built Eone on our core conviction that design should be inclusive, bringing more people in instead of shutting them out. We believe that design shouldn’t discriminate or divide us up, but bring us together.

We believe that individuals with disabilities should have equal and integrated access to quality products, services, and structures — that everyone has a right to enjoy beautiful, functional design, and that we all benefit when we enjoy design together.

We believe inclusive design is a social justice issue.

Through inclusive design, we’re creating the change we wish to see in the world.

What is Inclusive Design?

Sometimes called universal design, inclusive design considers as many people’s needs and abilities as possible. Instead of assuming a one-size-fits-all user experience, inclusive design aims to please a diverse range of individuals and accommodate a variety of experiences and ways of interacting with the world.

Inclusive design recognizes that our needs shift with time and circumstance, so it anticipates different ways an individual might interact with the world as life goes on. Aging, permanent or temporary disability, carrying a load of grocery bags, pushing a stroller, or sitting in a business meeting are some examples of circumstances that impact how you interact with the world around you — circumstances that might change what you do or how you do things.

What’s the Difference Between Inclusive Design and Accessibility?

While inclusive design considers from the very beginning how something might be easily useful and enjoyable for as many individuals as possible, accessibility traditionally means making special considerations for people with disabilities. It’s the difference between designing a watch that can be read by touch or sight, and taking a standard analog watch and adding braille instead of numbers. The first example considers the functionality and beauty of a watch that doesn’t require sight, while the second example tries to take something designed for vision and make it work for touch without addressing some of the problems this modification creates.

Unlike assistive devices, inclusive design doesn’t specifically target people with disabilities. While assistive devices fill in the gaps left by exclusionary design practices, inclusive design aims to evolve products beyond their conventional definitions, changing our standards for products. Assistive devices aim to remove a barrier for people with disabilities. Inclusive design strives to fundamentally redesign a product so that the barrier does not exist in the first place. Assistive technology is reactive. Inclusive design is proactive.

How Eone Approaches Accessibility

At Eone, we utilize both approaches: building accessibility into what we do from the beginning, and addressing issues of access on platforms we use but do not own.

There are certain cases in which Eone cannot make something inclusive because we do not have control over design and user experience, such as social media platforms, retailer partner websites, and other properties we do not own. However, to the best of our ability, we aim to make accessible our use of platforms and third party sites — using the features available to us in ways that accommodate the most users.

From Eone website
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