Inclusive Design Studio2022-05-26T15:16:03-04:00

Project Description

Inclusive Design Studio logo

The Inclusive Design studio works with faculty, staff, students, and community partners to identify opportunities to design inclusive digital spaces. Our approach is grounded in an ethic of care, an orientation toward equity, and a commitment to inclusive design and design justice practices. Contact Dr. Sarah Lohnes Watulak to get involved!

The Inclusive Design Studio (IDS) at DLINQ is an initiative launched by the Office of Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ) in January 2019 that explores inclusive design through a critical, inquiry-based approach. It is an open initiative that seeks to be in community with students, faculty, staff, and anyone interested in working together to understand and work toward addressing the needs of people who are marginalized by design in its many forms. Unlike a typical studio located in a physical space, we are a virtual and distributed community. What makes us a studio is our orientation toward a model of informal learning that is driven by inquiry, focused on creation, and conducted in collaboration with peers and mentors.

We see the work of the Inclusive Design studio intersecting with a number of Envisioning Middlebury strategic directions, including digital fluency and critical engagement, full participation in diverse communities, and emergent teaching, learning, and research horizons.

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, “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” including social class/economic background (Inclusive Design Research Centre, n.d.). While Inclusive Design touches on all aspects of life, the Inclusive Design Studio is particularly interested in inclusive design in digital spaces.

Not only is design everywhere, but as Kat Holmes points out in her book Mismatch,

“Design shapes our ability to access, participate in, and contribute to the world.”

Furthermore, when we consider who is invited to the table when designing products, built environments, learning spaces, and more, we share Sasha Costanza-Shock’s concern that “…the people who are most adversely affected by design decisions…tend to have the least influence on those decisions and how they are made.”  Inclusive design isn’t just a feel-good buzzword; we see inclusive design as a social justice issue. 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. We intend to work toward mitigating the harms of exclusive design. As a starting point (but not an ending point), this means co-designing with people who are typically marginalized by design.

Studio Courses

Recent Studio Projects

Learn More

What’s new in the Inclusive Design Studio?

June 10th, 2019|

Happy June! It’s been a while since our last post, as we navigated the end of the spring semester and headed into the summer. Here’s a brief roundup of what the Inclusive Design Studio has been up […]

Design is Everywhere

March 8th, 2019|

In my last blog post for the Inclusive Design Studio, I wrote about feeling frustrated and fearing I would latch onto dominant discourse about inclusive design and thereby missing other potentially important aspects relevant […]

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