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Inclusivity vs. accessibility: what's the difference?

Whilst inclusive design and accessible design belong to the same family, they have some key differences.
Mark Critchley

Mark Critchley

2 minute read
May 18, 2021
Whilst inclusive design and accessible design belong to the same family, they have some key differences.
Inclusivity vs. accessibility: what's the difference? Image

But whilst inclusive design and accessible design belong to the same family, they have some key differences.


What is accessible design?

Accessibility is all about designing an experience to meet the needs of everyone within your audience, including those with disabilities. When it comes to creating content, accessible design is making sure that everyone has the same access and that no one becomes excluded.

By making sure that your content and campaigns are accessible, you’re demonstrating to your audience that you actively care about their experience and want to guarantee an equal experience for everyone.

There are even some laws surrounding accessible design for some organisations to adhere to, which you can read about in full by clicking here.


How do you create an inclusive

Inclusiveness, or the practice of inclusivity, is creating content that is mindful of a broad range of users, their variable abilities, their variety of environments, situations, and contexts.

Inclusiveness differs from accessibility in that it doesn't specifically address a particular need or problem that the audience may have, but instead provides a spectrum of tools and features that the end user can choose from to fit their requirements in that given environment or context. In short, an inclusive experience goes further from accessibility as it doesn’t just question whether someone can use something, but whether they in fact want to.

For us, inclusive design is all about empathising with our audience. It means depicting all types of diversity in our imagery to ensure that we're representing a wider demographic of people with regards to ethnicity, ability, gender and sexual orientation. This helps the audience to relate to the content by picturing themselves within it.


Why the two go hand in hand

The boundaries between ‘accessibility’ and ‘inclusivity’ often become blurred, with the two terms frequently being used interchangeably in the design world. But understanding how the two differ and, more importantly, how they complement each other is essential to creating the best possible experience for your audience.

While accessible design provides the foundation of ensuring that everyone can experience your content, inclusive design asks you to consider the content itself. Accessibility requires pragmatism and logic, and is based upon objective, measurable facts such as contrast ratios, font sizes, browser versions and alternative text. Inclusivity is more emotional and subjective, prompting you to put yourself into the audience’s shoes to consider whether the experience is something they will actually enjoy or benefit from.

By considering and employing both of these design practices, you’ll be creating a more well-rounded experience for your audience that considers their desires as well as their needs.


If you’re looking for support in creating content that is both accessible and inclusive for your audience, get in touch with us today and we’d be happy to help.