Who are designers? Who are we? We are the people tasked with creating an equal experience for all of our users/consumers/customers as much as possible. But what about the designers themselves? Is design an equal opportunity career? Or do design communities leave out some people?
I was tasked with a project to create an equal opportunity headhunting system. The challenge was to build a system that treats all job applicants equally, regardless of race, gender, nationality, or disability. Let’s focus on one of these characteristics: disability. Some of the data showed that most people with disability feel they are left out, and they are. Most of the job applications ask for disability or a record of it. Some of these applications imply that any type of disability equates to a lack of mental ability to do the job.
If we are looking at creating a consistent job application experience for everyone, including designers, then it shouldn’t be a question of being disabled or not. It should be a question of ability to do the job function with appropriate accommodations or not.
Creating terms such as ally or other beautiful words like that will not help create equal opportunities for people with disability, but actions do. People with disability are not looking for attractive terms since disability is not something to be ashamed of. Disabled people are looking for a chance to contribute. Most words that are meant to replace the phrase disabled, such as “health challenges” do not help. Instead, they provide ignorant people with the opportunity to leave disabled people out of the community while at the same time soothing their consciouses. Softer terms are not as impactful as the word “disabled”, and people can hide behind this beautiful term to say they are woke and aware.
Including people with a disability or a health challenge in the design community creates equality since they have a different perspective that the data cannot show us. In addition, living with a disability or health challenge gives the power and tools to these people to create an impactful design.
Would be happy to hear what you have in mind about my note above.