WebExpo 2024: 5+1 Questions for Tereza Kosnarová, Service Designer and Researcher

The WebExpo 2024 conference is focused on accessibility and offers several opportunities for those interested in this topic to dive deeper into it. One of them is Tereza Kosnarová’s talk, Designing for All: Overcoming Barriers in Inclusive Design.

In this talk, Tereza will share insights from real-world research and explore the everyday limitations that UX designers, researchers, and other professionals in product roles face. She’ll also share a simple roadmap to navigating the world of inclusive design. Whether you’re dealing with concerns about involving diverse voices, communicating about sensitive topics, or adapting to various user needs, get ready to learn how to make the digital world more inclusive.

Firstly, let me briefly introduce Tereza. Tereza is a passionate user researcher, service designer focused on social innovation, educator and Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies. She is an advocate for people who are not always heard and strives to contribute to a fair and inclusive society that does not forget anyone’s needs.

Do you want to know more about Tereza? Check out her LinkedIn or her website 🙂

Moreover, Tereza offers a 20% discount on her workshops to WebExpo 2024 participants. Choose one (or some 🙂 of her workshops on www.uxworkshopy.cz, use promo code Webexpo24 (code is valid by the end of October), and learn more about prototyping, inclusive design or facilitation.

Radek: From your research, what are some common barriers UX designers and researchers face when trying to implement inclusive design?

Tereza: UX designers and researchers often face several barriers when it comes to inclusive design. A major problem is the lack of motivation and resistance to change within the organisation. It’s like trying to turn a big ship—it takes time and effort. Also, many people don’t have enough knowledge about inclusive language and assistive technologies, which can make things tricky.

Another challenge is choosing the right approach for specific projects because every project is unique. For example, a project for a healthcare app might need different considerations than one for an educational platform. Additionally, there’s a tendency to see accessibility from a medical perspective, focusing on individual disabilities rather than creating environments that are accessible to everyone. This can limit the overall inclusivity of a design process.

There’s also a subtle bias called ableism in some design practices, where the needs of people with disabilities might be unintentionally overlooked. Plus, maintaining the momentum for inclusive efforts can be tough with shifting priorities and limited resources.

Radek: How can designers effectively involve diverse voices in the design process to ensure a more inclusive outcome?

Tereza: Great question! One effective way to involve diverse voices is through participatory design. This means inviting representatives from the target groups directly affected by the design to join the process. For example, if you’re designing a travel app, involve people with mobility issues to understand their needs better.

Creating a safe and open environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their experiences is also crucial. Think of it like hosting a friendly roundtable discussion where everyone’s voice matters. Additionally, using inclusive research methods, such as accessible feedback channels and creating personas that reflect diverse needs, can be very helpful. Collaborating with external consultants (like you or your partner in crime Ondřej Pohl) who have expertise in specific disabilities can provide valuable insights too.

Radek: What strategies do you recommend for balancing the need for inclusivity with other design and business constraints, such as deadlines and budgets?

Tereza: Balancing inclusivity with business constraints can be a bit of a juggling act, but it’s definitely doable with some strategic planning. First, try to integrate inclusive design principles early in the design process. It’s like baking a cake—adding the right ingredients at the beginning makes everything smoother later on.

Using tools like the W3C Accessibility Maturity Model can help assess your current level of accessibility and plan for gradual improvements. Educating your team about the benefits of inclusive design—both from a social responsibility and business perspective—can foster motivation. For instance, showing how an inclusive product can tap into a broader market can be a strong argument.

Involve users with disabilities in usability testing to gain insights without significant extra costs. Finally, highlight potential legal requirements and the market reach of accessible products to make a strong case for inclusivity.

Radek: Can you walk us through the simple roadmap you’ve developed for navigating inclusive design? What are its key components?

Here’s a straightforward roadmap for inclusive design:

  • Awareness and Education: Start by educating your team about why inclusive design is important. Use resources like glossaries and playbooks to build a common understanding. Think of it as setting the stage for everyone to be on the same page.
  • Assessment and Planning: Evaluate your current design practices using frameworks like the W3C Accessibility Maturity Model. Identify key areas for improvement and plan small, manageable changes.
  • Inclusive Research: Engage diverse users early in the design process through participatory design methods. Use accessible feedback channels and create inclusive personas to gather comprehensive user insights.
  • Design and Implementation: Apply inclusive design principles throughout the process. Aim for universally accessible environments rather than focusing on specific disabilities.
  • Testing and Iteration: Continuously test your designs with diverse user groups. Use their feedback to iteratively improve accessibility and inclusivity.
  • Sustainability and Advocacy: Promote inclusive design within your organisation by highlighting its long-term benefits. Advocate for ongoing education and the inclusion of diverse voices in future projects.

Radek: How do you handle pushback or resistance from stakeholders who may not initially see the value in investing in inclusive design?

Tereza: Handling pushback from stakeholders can be challenging, but it’s all about clear communication and demonstrating value. Highlight legal requirements and potential financial benefits, such as reaching a broader market and improving customer satisfaction. Use data and case studies to show how inclusive design enhances usability and sparks innovation.

For example, share success stories from other companies that have benefited from inclusive practices. Address concerns about costs and timelines by showing that early integration of inclusive practices can prevent more significant expenses later. Emphasise the ethical and social responsibility aspects, and showcase how inclusivity aligns with the company’s values.

Radek: Why should WebExpo attendees join your talk?

Tereza: WebExpo attendees should definitely join this session to gain valuable insights into overcoming barriers to inclusive design. They’ll learn practical strategies for creating accessible and inclusive products and understand the importance of including diverse voices in the design process. This talk is research-based, and I will share tips from 60 designers, researchers, and accessibility specialists.

Tereza, thank you very much for the interview, and I look forward to your talk at WebExpo 2024!

For those who would like to join Tereza and other excellent speakers at WebExpo 2024, there is a coupon code “poslepu“ for 20 % off the ticket price.

Buy the Ticket & Enjoy WebExpo 2024

Jak podniká UX výzkumnice Tereza Kosnarová

Radek Pavlíček

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