Designing Better Futures
As organizations partner with advocates and DEI leaders, the opportunity to create more inclusive experiences has never been greater. People expect better as we come together in space to collaborate, learn and be productive. By considering these tensions and working alongside traditionally excluded perspectives and communities, leaders can be proactive and notice when decisions do not support the full spectrum of needs that exists — resulting in a mismatch or exclusion. Through our work we have identified five key design tensions to consider when designing for inclusivity.
Design for all ability levels, without the need for adaptation.
Wellbeing is communal — it’s impacted by our relationships, communities and environments.
The experience of being less sensitive and less likely to recognize and respond to stimuli. Preference for more sensory input from the environment.
Accommodating a wide range of preferences and abilities is critical to accessibility, and helps people make the space their own.
Meaningful connections to
others sustains people and
combats loneliness, a growing
Wellbeing is also a practice people can cultivate and develop when given the right space and tools.
The experience of being highly sensitive to sensory stimuli. Preference for a controlled, predictable, “sensory-friendly” environment.
Predictability helps people prepare and plan their day and reduce stress.
Design for a group of individuals with very specific needs.
Physical and psychological safety are essential needs — all people need places for privacy, solitude and respite.
In this central gathering hub, a diversity of people assemble, yet the space offers only one way to experience the event. The equality of the experience creates exclusion, limiting individual accommodation and leaving many feeling left out or uncomfortable. Bennett and her team explored the design tensions and identified how space can create a more equitable experience.
(Right) Individual spaces can be utilized to provide a more controlled environment to focus, retain information and feel safe and comfortable. This space was designed for hypersensitivity needs, and benefits from a calm, neutral palette, privacy curtains and acoustic wall panels.