Fair by design. Addressing the paradox of inclusive design approaches

Matteo Bianchin, Ann Heylighen
2017 The Design Journal  
Inclusive design approaches like universal design prescribe addressing the needs of the widest possible audience in order to consider human differences. Taking differences seriously, however, may imply that "the widest possible audience" is severely restricted. In confronting this paradox, we recruit Rawls' theory of justice as fairness. Applying Rawls' principles to universal design implies that users derive which design allows for equitable use by deliberating under a veil of ignorance
more » ... ing their own capacities or limitations. Rather than addressing everyone's needs, being designed universally then means matching what everyone would choose under the condition sketched. Since this can hardly apply to single artefacts, we suggest considering the social distribution of usability as the proper domain of fairness in design instead. Under this reading, just design concerns how usability is distributed across relevant users. Differences in usability are acceptable if overall usability for the worst offs is maximized.
doi:10.1080/14606925.2017.1352822 fatcat:xp46ykkmzjf65lkqjruk6zay54