When we refer to Inclusive
Design, we are talking about an improved methodological framework from what is
known as DCU, which tries to satisfy the needs of a greater range of users than
those represented by the ‘average user’.
The Inclusive Design process follows the same
reiterative phases as the DCU, that is, a continuous
Design-Prototyping-Evaluation. Since we are talking about Inclusive
Design, it is understood that among the objectives of the project is to satisfy
the needs of all users through an accessible and usable design, including by
people with disabilities or in unfavorable contexts of use. Therefore, at this
stage, the objectives and needs must be identified, also, of disabled users,
elderly people, or users limited by the context of use (who will access the
product through non-conventional devices such as electronic agendas), that
although they will share objectives with the ‘average user’, they will have
different access needs. This information about the user will be confronted with
the objectives of the project, in order to specify some project requirements on
which to start working.
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As discussed at the beginning, a single design cannot meet
the interaction needs of all users. A fairly common choice among websites
that are self-denoted as ‘accessible’ is to provide alternative versions, such
as the popular ‘text only’ version or those of different languages. These
‘versions’ are useful to increase the coverage of users, although they bring
implicit management problems and synchronized content update. A more efficient
option, although more complex from the technical point of view, is to design
dynamically adaptable interfaces to the needs of the user. A website
could, for example, detect if a user is accessing through a conventional
browser, an audio browser, a tactile browser, etc., and adapt the form and
presentation of the contents dynamically.
The best way to ensure the adaptability of a website is
through the separation of content, presentation, logical structure and
interaction. The separation between content, presentation and logical
structure, as well as the benefits derived from this way of designing, are
widely known among web developers. Not so much, however, the abstraction
of elements of interaction.
Different users will need different ways of presenting
information, but also adapted interaction elements. In the Web, the basic
element of interaction is the link, and this, due to its simplicity of behavior
will not need this abstraction, however other more complex elements (such as
selection lists) must be presented and respond to the interaction in a
different way according to the characteristics, abilities and limitations of
the user. This aims to enrich the organizational corpus of designers,
developers and architects, raising awareness of the need to design for more
users in more contexts of use.