Inclusive Design: Lessons from a Toothbrush
March 8, 2023
Have you ever thought about how the toothbrush has evolved over time? The modern toothbrush, as we know it, was patented in the US in 1938. Since then, there have been several improvements, such as synthetic bristles, plastic handles, and in 1960 the electric toothbrush was introduced in the US..
Recently, I got a Philips Sonicare Toothbrush recommended by my dentist. I love it, but what caught my attention was a unique feature. The toothbrush has an alert to let you know when to change the section of your mouth you’re brushing. It recommends dividing your mouth into quarters and brushing each section for 30 seconds. When it’s time to brush another section, the toothbrush alerts you not just with an audible sound but also with a change in the vibration of the toothbrush.
As a web developer and accessibility consultant, I’m passionate about inclusive design. This feature stood out to me because it’s an excellent example of inclusive design. Think about your morning routine – the kids talking, the shower running, music or news playing. There are all kinds of situations that could cause you to miss the audible alert of the toothbrush. What if you are hearing-impaired or deaf – you would not hear the alert at all. This is where the vibration feature is crucial, making the toothbrush more inclusive for everyone.
Inclusive design is all about creating products and experiences that are accessible and usable by everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It’s a crucial aspect of web development and something that I strive to achieve in all my work. Just like how the toothbrush has evolved over the years to be more accessible, we must ensure our digital experiences are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities.
Here are a few best practices to take into consideration for inclusive web design:
- Creating content that is easy to read and navigate. This includes using clear, concise language, and organizing information in a logical and intuitive manner.
- Using color and contrast effectively. Color blindness affects approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women, so it’s important to use color and contrast in a way that is accessible to everyone.
- Providing alternative text for images. This allows screen readers to describe images to users who are blind or visually impaired.
- Ensuring that videos have captions and transcripts. This allows users who are deaf or hard of hearing to access the content.
- Providing keyboard accessibility. This allows users who are unable to use a mouse to navigate the website or app using only the keyboard.
Inclusive design is essential in creating products and experiences that are accessible to and usable by everyone. The alert feature of my toothbrush highlighted the importance of designing products with accessibility in mind. Inclusive web design is not only essential for users with disabilities but also benefits everyone. By following best practices for inclusive design, we can create digital experiences that are accessible to everyone.