dai11y 10/05/2023 – How To Meaningfully Engage With Disabled People

Your daily frequent11y newsletter, brought to you by @ChrisBAshton:

10 Ways Designers and Researchers Can Meaningfully Engage With Disabled People in 2023

A thought-provoking article with some really useful takeaways.

Some tips are practical/logistical:

  • Bring disabled people into your process “from the very beginning”, before you’ve locked in your design problem or research questions. Doing so allows you to make the best use of these community members, allowing them to lend their expertise and be true collaborators, rather than just ‘rubber-stamping’ your design.
  • Offer remote and asynchronous participation. “Can you offer to do interviews over instant messaging or email? Can you run a focus group on Slack or Teams chat? Can you provide workshop materials and interview questions in advance so that your participants have extra time for cognitive processing?”
  • Consider what changes you can make to properly reward your participants.

Others are a change in mindset:

  • Reframe your design thinking: instead of “designing for” trust, you should “design against” abuse and exploitation. “Designing against” helps to avoid feature creep and lets you focus on just “the structural factors that are really, materially shaping those problems”.
  • “Be Deliberate About How You Categorize / Segment Disability”, i.e. instead of asking “what kind of disability do you have?”, ask “which of these things are difficult or inaccessible for you?”. Understand that some people don’t yet have a medical diagnosis for their disability. Ask about barriers and difficulties rather than disabilities.
  • Related: how should you hire disabled people in the first place? Traditional networking and going through large-scale disability charities is not inclusive, says the author. Instead, they propose hiring “a couple of disabled people as outreach coordinators”: people who are “politically engaged enough to be connected to small grassroots organizations, to be aware of current and ongoing issues within disability communities and how those need to be reflected in design research questions and recruitment profiles for research participants”.
  • There are also sections in the article about “thinking about power”, stopping “ignoring invisibilized disability”, and “thinking about accessibility in terms of time and energy, not just space and matter”.

Prefer longer newsletters? You can subscribe to week11y, fortnight11y or even month11y updates! Every newsletter gets the same content; it is your choice to have short, regular emails or longer, less frequent ones. Curated with ♥ by developer @ChrisBAshton.