Inclusive Design: Notes from Underground*

Mina Rezaei
3 min readMay 28, 2021

It was hard to be heard and recognized with masks during the pandemic. What made us frustrated for more than one year, is many people’s everyday life, many “invisible” people.
Based on the context, different groups of people can be considered “Unseen” including different race groups, age groups, people with disabilities, and other categories that I might have missed because I have not come across.

Invisible people

It has been proved that designing for underrepresented groups results in a better design for all people. Inclusive design emphasizes the role of invisible people in designing process. For an inclusive design, designers should understand and take invisible/ underrepresented or unseen people’s needs to account.
Who better than underrepresented groups know about their problems?

In recent years, companies tend to bring invisible people to the light in their hiring process. However, these policies have sparked some controversies. Some people believe hiring people of color/women/ other underrepresented groups, would be a discrimination to other people. This idea is false. I decided to draw an infographic to represent what is happening:

So, this is not discrimination but equity for all. These policies lead to less domination of a specific group of people. Also, hiring different groups of people brings more insights into the companies which, in turn, result in a more effective design. Here are some tips for fostering inclusion and diversity in the work place:

  • Hear underrepresented groups’ voices: They have long remained unheard. Hearing them helps you broaden your perspective as inclusive designers.
  • Be open to learning: It is hard to be unbiased while we all, more or less, have grown up in a culture of racism and male domination. Therefore, we should always be open to educate ourselves about our biases and learn how to reduce them.
  • Speak up: There is a quote in Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix that Albus Dumbledore says “Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” Whenever you see someone is not being seen, try to speak up about them and improve visibility in your workplace.

+Some Resources

There has been some great toolkits for practicing inclusion and diversity in work places. Two examples are Dropbox and Adobe toolkit.

Liliy Zheng is one of the great advocates of inclusive culture in work places. Check out her website and her Linkedin posts.

Read some useful articles about inclusion, and diversity in medium; Now Are the Hours of Work: Racism and UX Research by Stacy Houston, and Invisible Voice Matter by Rachel Liu.

*Part of the title has been barrowed from Dostoevsky’s novel “ Notes from Underground”.

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Mina Rezaei

UX researcher with a background in architecture+social geography and design. Im a cat lover as well🐱