To build more inclusive cities, we need to work with a broader range of people with respect to their ability, language, culture, gender, age, interests, preferences, socioeconomic backgrounds and other human differences. When planning a co-design activity, we should continually ask, “who are we missing?”, “how can we engage them in this process?”, and “how can we empower them to lead the process?”. To include diverse participants at every step, we need to challenge the attitudinal and physical barriers embedded in our current practices.
Our presumptions, assumptions and conventions often lead to hierarchies, reducing people to specific categories based on their limitations, and overlooking their capabilities and unique perspectives. To enable diverse participation, we need to create environments that are safe and comfortable for people with a wide range of needs to be able to work together and equally participate.
We should also consider that most of our communication, design and development tools are designed for able bodies and do not support alternative forms of interaction that are necessary for many other groups. Although finding tools and strategies that support multiple modes of interaction may take more time and resources, in the long term they facilitate a more diverse participation and generation of ideas that were otherwise impossible. For instance, offering written documents in digital format enables participants to interact with them through their prefered technologies, such as screen reader, scanners, magnifiers, etc. in order to read the content and enter their notes and ideas.