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Inclusive Design in Innovation

posted on 2023-06-08, 08:54 authored by David Twigg
Many developed societies are witnessing, amongst other things, populations that are ageing and legislation designed to promote equality for all. How are these trends impacting upon innovation, and how are government and enterprise responding to this? Various terms - largely interchangeable - are used to describe the process of designing products and services that enable a wider access to these in society: universal design, design for all, and inclusive design. Within industrial design and architecture there are established movements promoting the use of universal design principles in consumer products, housing and public spaces. Examples of products that are universally useable by young and old, able-bodied and disabled alike can be found already: mobile telephones, ATMs, elevators, healthcare equipment, kitchen appliances, website design, and watches. This focus on inclusive (universal) design is occurring worldwide but at different rates, and in different forms. This paper examines the impact of inclusive design on the innovation process, considering: What is driving the adoption and implementation of inclusive (universal) design practices in society? Which activities require further attention in the innovation debate? It considers inclusive design in products, services and processes. The paper suggests that whilst considerable attention has been paid to consumer product innovation, and to a lesser extent consumer services, there is both a need and a shortfall of attention on innovation in industrial products and operations. Companies will need to develop working environments that accommodate a greater variety of workforce, especially by age and ability. This will necessitate internal innovation of practice as well as the selection of appropriate external processes and practices. Finally, the paper highlights a number of research areas requiring further examination with regard to inclusive design practice.


Publication status

  • Published

Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

SPRU 40th Anniversary Conference - The Future of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

Event location

University of Sussex, UK

Event type


Department affiliated with

  • Business and Management Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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