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There is no such thing as average

For Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Evelyn Ofosu, Senior Designer, shares her lived experiences and learnings with us around why it’s important to think outside of our experiences. 

I grew up in a house understanding that there is no such thing as the ‘only way’.

We understood that there was more than one way of doing things and we were certainly not what you might call an ‘average’ family. My father is visually impaired, and my brother has learning difficulties. We often had to find ways of adapting so that everyone could enjoy family life without anyone feeling like a burden or seperated.

We are also a black family, which inevitably brings with it all of the negative issues and perceptions that pervade society. As a child, my understanding of the world started at home, often dealing with the unenviable feelings of exclusion.

Unfortunately, most things in life have been designed for what society defines as the ‘average’ person. In many ways this has left us feeling unconsidered from being able to easily access various products and experiences others take for granted. For example, trying to watch a film or show as a family that didn’t provide the option for audio description created a huge barrier in such a day to day activity. No one wants to feel excluded so change is imperative for future generations.

Designed for other lives

As a designer myself, I am fortunate to occupy a creative space where hopefully I can contribute to positive change. Indeed, from experience I feel it is my calling and destiny to be a leading example of designing with empathy through understanding others' lived experiences.

When it comes to the digital world I truly believe that every user deserves a first-rate digital experience. Someone with a disability must be able to experience any service enjoyably and with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities. The same applies to those from different races, class, genders, ages, or ethnicities.

What accessibility and inclusive design mean to me

It means:

  • Change for my family
  • Creating a sense of belonging.
  • A new way of design thinking.
  • A more enriching product experience.
  • Many more smiles in the world through unlocking humanity’s potential.
  • Placing inclusivity at the very heart of the process.

Thinking outside our experience

As designers, it is important for us to build a network of people with a range of abilities to better understand needs and uncover possibilities. That means being exposed to wide-ranging conversations and learning how people interact in different ways that will enable us to build better designs and systems.

There is an opening for the role of creativity here; to challenge the outmoded and archaic ways of thinking and adapt to the new and innovative. If we are all designing the same thing, where is the breadth of approach in what we create to embrace those differences?

I want to be a part of a world where exclusion in products doesn’t exist because of differences. Where design is viewed through different lenses, providing alternative ways of knowing.

I’m up for learning, are you?


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