Join us in co-designing connected cities, neighbourhoods, and spaces that are more diverse and inclusive.

Inclusive Design Framework

The emerging interrelationships between people, technology and spaces (their neighbourhoods and communities) create new, complex problems. People are diverse and have unique needs, the technology is moving quickly, and the context is rapidly changing. Investment in designing for hypothetical “norms” and average populations, and creating fixed standards and design criteria, leads us to ignore the changes, deny the complexity, and exclude the diversity—resulting in technologies, systems, and services that are rigid rather than adaptable and fail to address the needs of many citizens. Data ownership, governance, and privacy are significant issues that must be addressed collectively; with careful attention paid to both the potentials that are enabled and to the social risks that new technologies in civic spaces present.

Inclusive design assumes no predetermined end point and no generalized success criteria, instead inviting diverse participants to determine the outcomes and measures collectively. The inclusive design framework is intended to be more like a trellis that supports organic growth and provides a foundation from which to innovate and evolve. The three dimensions of the framework are:

  1. Recognize, respect, and design for human uniqueness and variability.
  2. Use inclusive, open & transparent processes, and co-design with people who have a diversity of perspectives, including people that can’t use or have difficulty using the current environments.
  3. Realize that you are designing in a complex adaptive system.

Co-Design (A Community-Driven Approach)

With the current pace of urban development and adoption of emerging technologies, new connected neighbourhoods are developing around the world. However, residents are generally not included in the process of designing these spaces and the technologies that connect them. The burden is then placed on the individual residents to figure out how to adapt to a connected lifestyle in which their unique needs were not taken into consideration.

Houses and a flower

The practice of co-design tries to bridge this gap. It offers citizens a way to actively participate in the iterative design and growth of communities that meet their needs. Including the most unique and diverse needs—the “edges”—in the co-design process is an effective strategy to ensure our design stretches and responds to a broader range of needs. If we reach the edge, the design will also work better for the centre and will be more flexible and generous. Co-designing cities with citizens whose needs are typically considered to be “at the margin” leads to integrating inclusive design and accessibility into the planning of cities and civic technologies right from the start, minimizing the need for segregated, specialized solutions or expensive retrofitting later.

Ideas in Progress

July 30, 2018

As part of our efforts to include diverse perspectives in creation of inclusive cities, IDRC organized an embedded co-design session in elementary and middle schools with grade 3, 5, and 6 students. Read more.

July 25, 2018

IDRC has agreed to work with the Sidewalk Toronto team to help with creation of their accessibility and inclusion principles. We would like to invite you to join a co-design process to contribute your ideas about creating an inclusive, welcoming, and livable city. Read more.

June 25, 2018

The cities being built today are the cities our children will be living in as adults. However, children are seldom included in urban design and planning conversations and processes. Read more.

May 10, 2018

Last week at their public roundtable meeting, Sidewalk Toronto announced a new partnership with OCAD University to address accessibility issues in their Quayside project. Read more.

May 8, 2018

We've been thinking through some ways IDRC might be able to contribute to Sidewalk Toronto project to address issues and concerns related to accessibility and inclusion. Read more.

Get Involved

We are interested in learning more about connected communities and exploring ways to make them more inclusive, flexible and welcoming for diverse needs and perspectives. Please email us or join our discussion list if you’d like to be part of this conversation.

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