In formal education, there are often prerequisites for various courses. You need to pass algebra before you can take advanced algebra. Body movements 101 before Dance 201, and so on.
To build a house on a piece of land, you need to own it first or at least have the rights to build on it. Most people also don’t buy a pre-fabricated house or a Huf Haus before they have land to put it on.
Seems a rather basic principle doesn’t it.
And yet, it doesn’t appear to be.
Digital transformation projects still focus 98% of their time and energy on the technology, not on the people who are supposed to use them. The majority of the apps built require a smartphone. And often the latest versions of smartphones. Which results in millions of vulnerable people left out because they don’t have these phones. And potentially never will. All the COVID track and trace apps are perfect example of this. Or we go remote with education, but not everyone has a computer at home or even a radio.
Part of designing digital projects, should be a ‘check prerequisites’ step. A moment in the design stage where a pause occurs. At least once a week, perhaps even once a day. In the pause, ask ‘for this to work, what are the assumed prerequisite our clients need to have’. List them down, and then check the reality of your client.
Not everyone has a smartphone. Not everyone has fibre broadband. Or broadband period. Or even 3G, 2G, or any G. Not everyone is male, white, able bodied or the same wealth status. And yet we continually build digital products assuming people do.
And here’s the thing, those of us ‘without’ are unlikely to raise our voices because we are embarrassed. We feel ashamed, not good enough, and like we are failing at life and our children.
Inclusive design is the responsibility of those of us designing. And it requires us to step out of our privilege and actually listen and see.
It is not easy, do it anyway.