It’s been about a month since my last post for the Inclusive Design Studio – well past time for an update. Noraya and I have been reading, listening, asking questions, and working our way toward crafting a mission statement for the studio that best reflects our understanding of inclusive design and our intentions for how we will put it into practice in the next year. Now that we have a complete draft of the mission statement, our next step is to share it broadly and invite feedback. Below, you’ll find the full text of the mission statement (it’s a bit long – sorry-not sorry! – trying to build in some transparency) and a link to a survey that you can use to provide us with some feedback.

First, though, I want to reflect a bit on this particular sentence from the mission statement, which lays out our understanding of inclusive design: “We recognize that the concept of ‘inclusive design’ is multifaceted, complex, and a process that must never end.” How did we get to this definition? As I wrote in my first blog post for the studio, Noraya and I created a series of inquiry questions to guide our initial work in the studio, including, What do we mean by inclusive design? What scholarly and practice-based traditions inform inclusive design? How can we put inclusive design principles into action? The concept map below was our attempt to represent our understanding based on our reading, watching, listening, and conversations. The concept map is a bit messy, interconnected, and in progress – it is a snapshot of our understanding at one moment in time, and is bound to change as we continue to explore, question, and challenge our own understanding and practice of inclusive design.

concept map with center node inclusive design

(image description: a concept map with a center node that says Inclusive Design centers “people who are normally marginalized by design” (Sasha Costanza-Chock). The node clusters linked to the center node are: Who are the designers? – Everyone; What do we design? – Platforms, products, learning experiences; Frameworks/lenses/approaches to understanding inclusive design – accessibility, universal design for learning, disability studies, design justice and intersectional feminism, OER, Open Pedagogy; Inclusive design practices – build in accessibility from the start, co-design, work openly, sharing projects, products, and processes openly, seek multiple voices & perspectives, attending to the intersectional and situated nature of lived experience (these practices borrow heavily from the Inclusive Design Research Center’s Inclusive Design Guide, and the Design Justice Network Principles)

We want your feedback!

So: we invite you to participate in helping to shape the Inclusive Design Studio by sharing your feedback on the Inclusive Design Studio mission statement draft. If you are so inclined, please fill out this brief survey to provide us with feedback; it’s  should only take 5 minutes to complete. Thank you!


Inclusive Design Studio @ DLINQ Draft Mission Statement

About the Studio

The Inclusive Design Studio (IDS) at DLINQ is an initiative launched in January 2019 that explores inclusive design through a critical, inquiry-based approach. It is an open initiative that invites students, faculty, and community members in for collaboration. We aspire to engage with the ways in which design processes and solutions intersect with social, historical, and economic factors that reproduce unjust systems. The studio also explores the potential for design to disrupt these systems and create digital spaces that embrace inclusion.

What is Inclusive Design?

Our view of design is broad; it “is the intention (and unintentional impact) behind an outcome.” (Creative Reaction Lab, 2018, p. 11). In other words – design is everywhere! Inclusive spaces work to purposefully and meaningfully bring together “diverse perspectives and creat[e] a better outcome for all. Inclusion is an invitation that not only accepts differences, but celebrates and embeds them” (Creative Reaction Lab, 2018, p. 10). Taken together, as Jess Mitchell explains, “Inclusive design is design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age, and other forms of human difference.” While Inclusive Design touches on all aspects of life, the Inclusive Design Studio is particularly interested in inclusive design in digital spaces.

Mission Statement

The Inclusive Design Studio at DLINQ is grounded in an ethic of care, an orientation toward equity, and a commitment to inclusive design practices. As studio caretakers, we aspire to facilitate and engage in inclusive design  through research, experimentation, practice, and open dialogue. We recognize that the concept of “inclusive design” is multifaceted, complex, and a process that must never end. The aim of the studio is to highlight issues of design inequity and create conscientious designers across the spectrum of everyday life.

For the first year of the studio, our goals are to work in collaboration with students, faculty, and staff to build foundations in the following:

  • Raising awareness about the concept of inclusive design by profiling design injustices
  • Sharing inclusive design practices, tools, and processes
  • Co-designing inclusive digital products, platforms, and/or learning environments
  • Grow the Studio community

We intend for these goals to serve as small moves that build toward larger action in the future.

To be transparent in our thinking, below we share a little more detail about our thinking around some key components of the IDS: research, experimentation, practice, open dialogue, and the studio community.


Through a participatory, inquiry process , we will build awareness about inclusive design by highlighting design injustices, sharing inclusive design practices,  and demonstrating various examples about what it means to “design inclusively” in various spaces– product design, event design, curriculum design, etc.

Design Prototyping

The IDS sees design prototyping as a process and opportunity to confront design injustice by intentionally centering “people who are normally marginalized by design” (Sasha Costanza-Chock). IDS will facilitate opportunities [provide a space for, be a center for] to prototype inclusively designed products, events, curriculum, spaces, etc. For example, after investigating the design history of objects, such as campus maps, we imagine community members might redesign the maps from the perspective of people who were excluded from the original design. We also imagine that students and faculty working on their own design projects might reach out to IDS caretakers to help them consider inclusive design approaches.


As a newly-forming studio, we are cognizant of the opportunity to put inclusive design practices into action in the design of the studio itself. Borrowing from the Inclusive Design Research Center’s Inclusive Design Guide and the Design Justice Network Principles, we practice inclusive design through:

  • Seeking multiple voices and perspectives
  • Attending to the intersectional and situated nature of lived experience
  • Co-design
  • Collaboration
  • Working openly: being transparent in order to be explicit about our thinking
  • Sharing practices, process, and products openly via our website, Twitter, …
  • Creating multiple pathways
  • Remaining curious

Open Dialogue

The IDS invites engagement from everyone and everywhere. We aspire to foster dialogue about inclusive design theories and practices among the studio community, and between the studio and the wider Middlebury community. In an effort to invite collaboration with all parties, the studio maintains a blog with open comments and always welcomes contributions in the form of feedback, questioning, and participating in this initiative. Our sharing is open to the public inside and outside of the Middlebury community.

Studio Community

Who is the studio community? It can be you, the person next to you, next to them, anyone! Our definition of the studio community is purposefully broad because we want everyone to be involved and have a chance to contribute to this conversation. We hope to grow the community by building partnerships with stakeholders across the institution, including, but not limited Middlebury faculty, staff, students, classes, student clubs, organizations, campus offices, and more…… If you are interested in joining the studio community, please email Sarah Lohnes Watulak.