How Microsoft shows us that inclusivity should be the new norm
Feeling proud and ecstatic! That was our reaction when we saw the video from Engadget (>1,3 million subscribers) about the new Microsoft Inclusive Techlab and the video from Microsoft Surface. Microsoft Inclusive Techlab is a lab featuring the latest applied technology for people with certain disabilities. Microsoft opened this lab in May 2022 as the successor to their previous lab initiated by the Xbox team back in 2017. The Inclusive Techlab has six different rooms each with their own category.¹ For instance, you have the classroom area and the living room area. Each room features various applied technology devices, and we are happy to announce that we have spotted our Clevy Keyboard in the classroom area!
Microsoft plans to make big strides in inclusivity and wants to develop new and innovative products for and with people with disabilities. Dave Dame, the director of Devices and Accesibility for Microsoft and one of the main founders of the Inclusive Techlab, says that this lab is intended to be an embassy for people with disabilities, not a space about them.² It is a lab where people can let go of their assumptions about this diverse group of people and instead, design products based on their actual needs.
Kat Holmes, former director of Microsoft’s Inclusive Design department and the author of her book: ‘Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design’, explains that as a designer, you always need to be able to let go of generalized assumptions about your target audience to create something innovative.³ People tend to think and design within a certain box that has been standardized. These so-called ‘standards’ lead us to design a product that should work for everybody. But the big question is: does it really work for everyone? How are these product ‘standards’ determined? And what groups of people are you possibly excluding by following these standards? Some of these standards for instance are based on test results of a small group of people, that might not reflect the full spectrum of the target audience. This could potentially result in a product that is not optimally designed for its purpose. It is indeed impossible to always design a product that works perfectly for everyone, but many problems could be solved by questioning the industry standards of a product, as they might be outdated. In many cases it is inevitable that a product could exclude a certain demographic within your target audience, but that should be a motivation to create alternate solutions to be as inclusive as possible. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve with our brand: Clevy.
Were you able to spot our product in their video… ?