– Dr Wendy Keay-Bright – Inclusive Design

Dr Wendy Keay-Bright – Inclusive Design Principles – Leave Out Everything Except the Magic – December 2015


Inclusive design is “propositions that are usable by people without specialist adaptations”

Why use inclusive design? “By 2020 half the adult population will be over 50 years old. With 58,000 people in England with complex needs do not have access to digital novation, this number is set to more than double in 2030.”

Article 30 of the United Nations Convention for rights of people with disabilities states that “all people with disabilities should have access to recreational and sporting activities.”

I was really excited by Wendy Keay-Brights lecture. I have been concerned about the possible issues and pitfalls surrounding immersive technology particulary in regards to todays youths and the possible affect on them into their adult lives.

Wendy’s work is based around creating immersive technology that works for everyone. One design covers all rather than having to adapt it for people with certain special requirements. She is working within the context of design for leisure activities. I was blown away by this lecture, it was exciting and inspiring. It is fantastic to see how many people out there who are using their talents  to for the greater good. Her work reminded me of Cathy Treadaways aprons for people with dementia. I also appreciated how Wendy approached her design process, speaking and listening to all concerned. When working with the group of autistic boys and the group with special needs Wendy worked closely with the staff, finding out what both the clients and the staffs needs were. There was understandably a lot of scepticism from the staff at the beginning, however this was replaced by excitement and wonder as Wendy and her teams games were enjoyed by the clients. Along with the social aspect of the clients being able to collaborate together despite their limitations there was also an obvious emotional benefit to these designs. The clients showed definite signs of improvement through the use of these games, they became more interactive with staff and with other clients. You could clearly see they were having “Fun”, working together, solving problems and getting physical exercise.

I became quite emotional at one or two points in the lecture. I remember one part where a young boy with high level autism walked into a room to be confronted by a projection on a wall. The projection reacted to his movement and he soon became aware that it was he that was making the projection react. He started through self discovery  learning how to manipulate the object projected on the screen. When he felt he had mastered it he turned to call his mother to come along and see what he was able to do. This child previously had to be coaxed to interact with people even his mother was now looking around for someone to interact with him, even calling out to his mother. Very moving indeed. This is just one of the success stories throughout the lecture.

The beauty with these games are that they are designed to be intuitive and self guided. No handbook or instructions are needed. They also do not require any peripherals such as control pads, they use a hacked Kinect for the controls instead. The actions on screen are dictated by movement and sound. I think that this is the magic that Wendy is talking about – Nothing left but the magic.

Another point that made me pause for thought was the process of collaboration that Wendy uses. She said that she collaborates with others when it comes to the practical design side of things, such as coding and electronics. I have been so wrapped up in creating work completely by myself particularly in regards to the electronics side of things that it is holding up my creative process.  I am limiting my ideas by my own lack of ability and the quality of a finished piece is at stake.  I want to learn about using technology and coding for my projects myself but by the time I get good enough my ideas may become stale.