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UCD Gathering conference

In June 2022, I attended the UCD Gathering conference, where inclusiveness was an outstanding theme.

Design leadership for introverts – Tim Yeo

What a gentle, genuine look at inclusiveness this opening keynote was, about how to navigate your profession as an introvert. How to be yourself in a working environment that rewards extroverts was something us shy people felt in our bones.

Running inclusive workshops – Flaminia Del Conte

Flaminia Del Conte’s workshop asked us to examine our experiences of participating in workshops that didn’t feel inclusive, so that we could then explore techniques to help us make our workshops better.

When do inclusive language guidelines become exclusive? – Laura Smith

Laura Smith talked about the risks of using neutral words to attempt to cover a range of identities in inclusive content design. Who might we inadvertently exclude, if a user, confronted by a supposedly neutral word, sees that their identity has been erased? Smith proposes that as a rule, we feel included when we see our identity(s) recognised and represented, and we should try to write for those specific identities, even if there is overlapping or identical content that pertains to more than one.

The interesting challenge I can see here is that you can only write about or for the identities you know about, and there is always a risk of leaving someone out. The answer here may be to ensure you leave a door open for users to come and talk to you about who they are. Which brings me neatly to…

The do’s and don’ts of survey writing – Catrin Jones

This solid demonstration of how to write a good survey was a timely reminder that surveys are full of pitfalls and are there for quantitative, rather than qualitative, data-gathering. Since inclusive language is something that has been on my mind with the recent publication of our Inclusive Language guide, this was helpful for gathering my thoughts on inclusive data-gathering.

Inclusive design: from making the case to making a difference – Audree Fletcher

Audree Fletcher’s talk about how you make the case for inclusivity demonstrated the power of stories to persuade more senior decision-makers to make good service design decisions for minorities during the Covid pandemic. One of her challenges was to persuade senior colleagues that some minority groups could be more vulnerable to Covid transmission.

By telling the story of individuals, she was able to demonstrate to colleagues the crossover of transmission between demographics, the painfully dangerous situations front line workers are sometimes forced to put themselves in, and the need to communicate and design for specific minority groups. Data can be supported by powerful stories, and services, when designed for the least included user, become better services.

Centring human rights and trauma in design – Eriol Fox

Keynote speaker Eriol Fox closed the conference with a talk about centring human rights when designing for traumatic events.  In their work developing technologies that centre human rights, they used journey-mapping to show how a user might interact with a piece of tech during a traumatic event. Sobering was their account of the ways in which seemingly innocuous technology can be used to harm the most vulnerable people. Their work showed that if you centre the human rights of your users, the way you think about tech includes consideration for the laws and rights surrounding that individual and how they might use your designs in given contexts.

Inclusiveness is the weather

Inclusiveness seems to be the weather just now for UX and content design. This conference, from its gentle opening keynote speech about how to navigate your profession as an introvert, to the slow detonating power of Eriol Fox’s talk on human rights-centred design, showed that we are as a community navigating the complexities of what it is to be a human, and design for humans, with increasing assuredness, nuance and maturity.

Key lessons:

  • Be gentle and authentic with yourself and others
  • Understand your power as a designer to affect people’s lives
  • Support data with powerful stories

Go to the UCD Gathering conference

Support your colleagues to attend the UCD Gathering conference the next time it comes around.

UCD Gathering

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