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Thesis Final

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Thesis Outline

Max Lehmann 16.11.2020

Introduction

(ca. 1000 words)

The predominant view of human diversity has always been and still is based around the ideology of normality. However, it is hardly possible to create a society of equality without recognizing abilities that deviate from the so-called norm as the actual norm. This goal is pursued by the concept of social inclusion, which is often misunderstood as an obstacle. In order to change the state of affairs and create a positive perception of inclusion as the opportunity it can be for the whole of society, it is essential to firstly understand and recognize human diversity and to secondly determine which decisions in the creation process of the world that surrounds us can lead to the exclusion of individuals. I will examine these aspects particularly in the area of education and access to information.

Exclusion versus Inclusion

(ca. 1000 words)

"Designing for inclusion starts with recognizing exclusion." (Holmes, K., 2020. p.12) Social exclusion is a complex process that results in certain individuals or groups of individuals being given fewer opportunities to participate in society than others. Social inclusion is the counter approach to this and while social exclusion is unfortunately the status quo in many areas of life, social inclusion is a method to reduce this inequality. The concept of social inclusion applies particularly to education and individuals with deviating abilities or prerequisites. "Inclusion […] is challenging the status quo and fighting for hard-won victories. […] We can create better resources through education and awareness." (Holmes, K., 2020. p.19)

Normality versus Individualism

(ca. 1000 words)

The self-perception of most people is centered around the ideology of normality. This ideology results from the idea of an average human, and opposing it, all the "others", that differ from the "average". The idea, however, that a large part of the population represents an average and skills and preferences within this group hardly vary, has never been true, but today less so than ever. Every person is special in one way or another and not two humans on earth share exactly the same abilities. "[…] we know there is no such thing as an average person, and we can see the flaw in the equal access approach to opportunity: if there is no such thing as an average person, then there can never be equal opportunity on average. Only equal fit creates equal opportunity." (Rose, T., 2016. p.158)

I will take an in-depth look at human diversity and also explain that, contrary to common belief, terms like disability cannot be defined solely as the impairment of an individual, but are mostly based on structural problems . "A person’s environment has a huge impact on the experience and extent of disability. Inaccessible environments create disability by creating barriers to participation and inclusion." (World Health Organization, 2011. p.4) This part will be preceded by an examination of the concepts of normality, average and individuality. I will furthermore briefly outline the formation of the ideology of normality, explain how it is shaped and the enormous power it has over the subjective perception of individuals in a society.

Emotions of exclusion

(ca. 1000 words)

In order to better understand the urgency of inclusive approaches, I would like to additionally shed light on the emotional consequences for individuals who experience exclusion. Whereas the concept of inclusion may often seem elusive, the feeling of exclusion is unmistakable, familiar to most people and even measurable. "Ask a hundred people what inclusion means and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Ask them what it means to be excluded and the answer will be uniformly clear: It’s when you’re left out."(Holmes, K., 2020. p.15)

It has a strong impact on an individuals well-being and will to participate in society. Even seemingly insignificant, isolated cases of discrimination can be the beginning of a vicious circle in which these experiences of individuals may entail their increasing withdrawal from society and in the long run, even greater exclusion. "An inclusive environment is far more than the shape of its doors, chairs, and ramp-ways. It also considers the psychological and emotional impact on people. (…) Core elements of our identities are formed by our encounters with inclusion and exclusion. We decide where we belong and where we’re outsiders. It shapes our sense of value and what we believe we can contribute." (Holmes, K., 2020. p.16)

Inclusion as an opportunity

(ca. 1000 words)

In large parts of society, human diversity and the resulting urgency to implement social inclusion consistently, is still perceived as an obstacle. Many creators assume that it involves additional work, which primarily benefits a few marginalized groups. However, this perspective does not correspond with the extent of the positive effects social inclusion can have on society as a whole.

Looking at social inclusion as an opportunity starts by considering humans without what we generally call an impairment or disability as "temporarily abled" (Li, C., UXmag, 2016). Very few disabilities are congenital. Most impairments, both physical and mental, are caused by external influences and some are only temporary. If you follow this thought through, you will realize that each and every one of us has a high probability of benefiting from inclusion at some point. Even if this already provides sufficient reasons to recognize the deviation from the norm as normality, there are many other reasons for doing so that I will talk about, like financial benefits through the inclusion of new customer groups or the dismantling of stereotypes. "A cycle of exclusion permeates our society. It hinders economic growth and undermines business success. It harms our collective and individual wellbeing. Design shapes our ability to access, participate in, and contribute to the world."(Holmes, K., 2020. p.17)

Importance of education and access to information for Inclusion

(ca. 1000 words)

Acknowledging diversity is the basis for a truly equal coexistence in our society. And this equality is for a big part based on education and self-determined access to information, as it is on a rational level fundamental to participate in most areas of our knowledge-based society.

This begins with gaining a basic understanding of how the world works, in order to make sense of it, continues with an understanding of the mechanisms that surround us and shape our rights and responsibilities as individuals, knowledge of current events and ultimately conditions the ability to produce knowledge. Lack of knowledge can also lead to obstacles in social interaction, can support the forming of social bubbles and in the long term also influence important developments in society as a whole, such as those of a political nature.

I will look at what information is essential to enable individuals to participate in our society in an equal way and which communication channels are relevant to the transmission of this content. Finally I will adress ways and means how anyone who prepares essential information and makes it accessible to others can make a contribution to inclusion and help change its persception towards the opportuinity it is.

Documentation of master-project process

(ca. 1000 words)

At this point I will document the process of my practical master project and the resulting findings. In this project I aim to create a platform of dialogue and unbiased reflection on human diversity in the shape of an interactive map. Its intention is to bundle practical suggestions, ressources and personal experiences in order to promote a positive understanding of the use of inclusive methods in the preparation and design of information as well as to clarify the necessity of these approaches.

I will look at how I have collected and mapped out attributes to human diversity due to which disadvantages in self-determined finding and understanding of information can arise. As part of the project, I will conduct a survey concerning reasons for and the emotions of exlusion in education and access to information.

Conclusion

(ca. 1000 words)

In the end, I will conclude that the urgency and legitimization of inclusive approaches can be clearly demonstrated and that society as a whole needs to make an effort to turn its perceptions of it into a positive one. The preperation and appearance of information plays a big role in the process. After all, much more individuals will benefit from the eventual additional effort than is assumed by most people today.

List of references

  • Holmes, K., 2020. Mismatch: How inclusion shapes design. MIT Press
  • Li, C., UXmag, 2016. Viewed 13.11.2020, <https://uxmag.com/articles/we-re-just-temporarily-abled>
  • Rose, T., 2016. The end of average: How to succeed in a world that values sameness. Penguin UK
  • World Health Organization, 2011. World report on disability 2011. Chapter 1: Understanding disabilty. World Health Organization

Bibliography

Annotated Bibliography

Allen Frances - Normal (2013)

… is a book raising criticism on the inflationary use of psychiatrical diagnosis. The author was co-author of the third and fourth edition of the most influential manual on psychological disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In this book he is fundamentally criticizing the approach to the compilation of this publication. His starting point is the difficulty of drawing a line between normal and not normal as well as the massive impact of psychiatric diagnosis on individuals. Accordingly, he notes that the over-definition of human mental diversity in the form of diagnoses can have a fundamentally negative effect both on individuals and ultimately on society as a whole.

Todd Rose - The End of Average (2016)

… is a book stating that no human is average and individuality matters and applies these statements to design processes. He develops this observation by means of a historical review, using various examples in which design based on an „average user“ led to complications and how the concept of ergonomics was subsequently developed to attempt to reduce these problems. In this book he also presents the five „principles of individuality“, which show how individuality can be expressed.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 (2018)

… is the collection of the official guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium on how to develop web content in an accessible, inclusive and usable way. The include mostly technical suggestions on how to treat content in order to be compatible with all different kinds of end-devices, helping-devices and work for a broad spectrum of differently abled users. („including accommodations for blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these, and some accommodation for learning disabilities and cognitive limitations; (…) older individuals with changing abilities due to aging and often improve usability for users in general; (…) but will not address every user need for people with these disabilities.“)

Aline Germain-RUTHERFORD - An Inclusive Approach to Online Learning Environments: Models and Resources (2008)

… is a paper speaking about cultural differences in learning preferences. The author takes the increasing number of online courses and the also increasing cultural diversity in students attending these as a basis to ask how that affects teaching and learning and state the necessity of designing these courses in a way which satisfies the participants different needs. She presents studies that try to assess where exactly different needs in education emerge through cultural differences and how to integrate them into the design of learning platforms.

Kat Homes, John Maeda - Mismatch - How Inclusion Shapes Design (2018)

… is a book that states, that there is a great necessity for pushing further inclusiveness in design, especially in digital technology, as most designers use themselves as reference when designing, thus letting out people who differ from that set of abilities. The author admits that the concept of inclusion is difficult to grasp and may never be fully achieved, but at the same time expresses how clearly exclusion is felt, and that every small step in the direction will bring a great improvement for certain groups of users. Currently, according to the author, the world around us is designed in such a way that the user has to adapt if possible, or is simply will be excluded. She furthermore focuses on the emotional consequences of exclusion in particular.

Kurzgesagt - In a nutshell

... is a series of short animated videos that are accessible on Youtube.These videos translate complex scientific, economic, sociological and political issues into easy to understand animations with explanatory narration. This conversion of complex content into an appealing and catchy form as well as the style are to me an exceptionally good example of making complex topics accessible in a simple and free of charge way.

Additional literature

  • Pat Langdon, Jonathan Lazar, Ann Heylighen, Hua Dong - Breaking Down Barriers - Usability, Accessibility and Inclusive Design (2018)
  • Roger Coleman, John Clarkson, Hua Dong, Julia Cassim - Design for Inclusivity - A Practical Guide to Accessible, Innovative and User-centred Design (Design for Social Responsibility) (2007)
  • Judith Kearney, Lesley Wood, Richard Teare - Designing Inclusive Pathways with Young Adults Learning and Development for a Better World (2015)
  • Roger Coleman, Cherie Lebbon, John Clarkson, Simeon Keates (auth.), John Clarkson, Simeon Keates, Roger Coleman, Cherie Lebbon - Inclusive Design Design for the Whole Population (2003)
  • Regine M. Gilbert - Inclusive Design for a Digital World Designing with Accessibility in Mind (2019)
  • Heydon Pickering - Inclusive Design Patterns: : Coding Accessibility Into Web Design (2016)
  • Norman Coombs - Making Online Teaching Accessible Inclusive Course Design for Students with Disabilities (Jossey-Bass Guides to Online Teaching and Learning) (2010)
  • Edward Steinfeld and Jordana Maisel - Universal design creating inclusive environments (2012)
  • John Maeda - The Laws Of Simplicity (2006)
  • Marsela Robo - Social inclusion and inclusive education (2014)
  • National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) - Reading and Learning Disabilities (2004)
  • WHO - World Report On Disability (2011)

First chapter draft 27.11.20

Introduction

[Explain the connections in my project. How is access to information related to inclusion and equality? And what role do the creators of information play in this? What aspects of information does this concern? The preparation, the design, but not the underlying facts.]

1.1 Definition of terms

The following terms shall be defined in advance:

  • Inclusion: in the sense of social inclusion.
  • Creator: In this work I use the term in its widest possible meaning. Anyone who creates or designs information and makes it accessible to other people is a creator in this sense. This refers to the conversion of information into visual, auditive, interactive, or textual content. This stage involves decisions such as the complexity of the text, the use and explanation of difficult words, dealing with prejudices, and mode of address of human diversity, but also appearance and technical framework. This definition does not necessarily require any specific training in the field.
  • User: Everyone who is being educated or trying to access information by themselves.
  • Information: The exact definition depends strongly on the context. (Here, however, information should be meant as an influence of change.) It is meant to cover the whole range, from factual knowledge, to social exchange and everything in-between. Information can be prepared in different ways.
  • Knowledge: Knowledge is processed information.

1.2. Right to equal participation

[All humans are theoretically born equal and have the right to equal participation, and access to information. Practically that is NOT YET true.]

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights […] Everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers". (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 1 and 19)

The United Nations promised these rights to every person on planet Earth as early as 1948, and much has happened since then. In Germany, for example it was in 1949 that the parliament extended the constitution by this sentence: „Men and women are equal.“ (https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/gendertexte/chronik.html/) Compared to over 70 years ago, the planet has certainly become more equal and just in many places. However, this goal - that of equal fundamental rights - is one where an approximation, no matter how close, will never be enough. And unfortunately, we have not yet reached the point where all people really have equal opportunities, equal status in our society. Certain groups within societies continue to be above others when it comes to opportunities for participation and influence, and thus also for self-realization and self-determined life. That is why there is still much to be done, even in the highly developed Western societies, which, due to their comparatively privileged position, have no excuse for not continuing to set a good example.

Achieving equality begins in the mind, but the predominant view of human diversity has always been and still is based around the ideology of normality. However, it is hardly possible to create a society of equality without recognizing abilities that deviate from the so-called norm as the actual norm. This goal is pursued by the concept of social inclusion, which is often misunderstood as an obstacle. In order to change the state of affairs and create a positive perception of inclusion as the opportunity it can be for the whole of society, it is essential to firstly understand and recognize human diversity and to secondly determine which decisions in the creation process of the world that surrounds us can lead to the exclusion of individuals. I will examine these aspects particularly in the area of education and access to information.

1.3. Knowledge-based society

[What is a knowledge-based society and what are its implications?]

According to current social theory, western societies are in a transition from an industrial to a knowledge-based society. This "refers to a formation of society in highly developed countries in which individual and collective knowledge and its organisation increasingly become the basis of social and economic as well as medial coexistence. However, basically every social system is based on knowledge.“ (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wissensgesellschaft)

"The production and distribution of knowledge will in future take on a priority role in the creation of values and in social consciousness. The future belongs to knowledge processing, to high-skilled labour". (Enquete-Kommission Globalisierung der Weltwirtschaft(Deutscher_Bundestag).pdf S.260)

"We do not know whether we are actually heading towards a knowledge based society or if we are already a knowledge based society. What we do know is that the generation of knowledge, the availability of knowledge, the application of knowledge and comprehensive knowledge management will increasingly determine the ways of living and working and thus also the structures of modern society. The medium of knowledge, in which modern society operates and will operate increasingly intensively, is derived from many sources. Science and research are among these sources, but also the wise use of scientific knowledge as well as judgement based on knowledge and experience which is able to mediate productively between understanding and reason, and finally the ability to communicate, which is also a medium in which knowledge is formed.“

More than ever before, access to information is therefore essential to achieve the goal of implementing the human rights agenda. This is true for education systems as well as for information systems that individuals use to access information in a self-determined way. Already the Latin origin of the word (Latin verb informare, which means to give form, or to form an idea. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information)) suggests:. To be able to access information is not only the prerequisite for acquiring knowledge oneself, but also to be able to participate in the production of knowledge.

If and how individuals can access information therefore has a great influence on if and how they are part of society and can actually make use of the rights that the global society has committed to provide them with. If knowledge is power, then information is the currency of that power. Those who are excluded from access to this currency have no access to power, even if it is only the power to lead their own lives in a self-determined way.

1.4. Human diversity and inclusive design in a knowledge based society

[What exactly does human diversity mean in relation inclusive content prperation in a knowledge based society?]‘‘

„An inclusive environment is far more than the shape of its doors, chairs, and rampways. It also considers the psychological and emotional impact on people. (…) Core elements of our identities are formed by our encounters with inclusion and exclusion. We decide where we belong and where we’re outsiders. It shapes our sense of value and what we believe we can contribute." (Mismatch How Inclusion Shapes Design- Kat Holmes John Maeda - Pg.16)

However, if information is to be made equally accessible to all the people it concerns, all users and their individual abilities must be taken into consideration in its creation (preparation and design).

After all, people are not all equal, but rather the opposite is the truth. Acknowledging this fact, human diversity, is the first step towards creating an inclusive society.

This is where the importance of the preparation and design of information for the implementation of social inclusion becomes clear. In order to implement inclusion, people need equal access to information, in education and training as well as in self-determined learning. In order to ensure this, information must be prepared and designed according to the principles of inclusion.

This responsibility is shared by all people who are involved in the creation (preparation and design) of information that is made public in any form.

1.5. Overview of the following thesis

In the following text I will first explain how the different societal forms, segregation, integration and inclusion differ in concrete terms and why many approaches that are considered inclusive actually follow the principles of integration.

Then I will discuss the ideology of "normality" and by means of a historical analysis I will clarify why this ideology is an unrealistic social construct, why there is no "average" user and why individuality is of great importance.

In order to further investigate these thoughts and to emphasize the importance of inclusion, I will examine the emotions connected to exclusion at this point. Because even small seemingly insignificant disadvantages can have a strong impact on the (forming of) identity and self-confidence of individuals.

I will then discuss the benefits of inclusion to show in which way it can be seen as an opportunity for the whole of society.

In the following chapter, as mentioned in the introduction, I will outline the importance of access to information for equal participation in a knowledge based society, explain the idea of "extended ergonomics" that I have developed and examine different media, digital as well as analogue, with regard to their importance for inclusive communication of knowledge.

At this point, before drawing a conclusion, I would like to document the process and the findings of my Master's project, in which I will create a compendium for the inclusive preparation and design of information. I will show how I use aspects of human diversity as a starting point for the structuring I have undertaken. Furthermore, I will present findings from a survey conducted within the project.

First chapter draft 01.12.20

Introduction

[Explain the connections in my project. How is access to information related to inclusion and equality? And what role do the creators of information play in this? What aspects of information does this concern? The preparation, the design, but not the underlying facts.]

1.1 Definition of terms

[The following terms shall be defined in advance:]

  • Inclusion: Social inclusion.
  • Creator (Creation of content): Anyone who creates or designs information and makes it accessible to other people is a creator in this sense. More specifically this refers to the conversion and structuring of information into visual, auditive, interactive, or textual content as well as its technical framework. This definition does not necessarily imply any specific training in the field.
  • User: Everyone who is being presented with or independently accessing information.
  • Information: Facts about someone or something being provided or learned. It is meant to cover the whole range, from informal interpersonal communication to factual and scientific knowledge, to its influence on change and everything in between.
  • Knowledge: Knowledge is processed information.

1.2. Right to equal participation

[All humans are theoretically born equal and have the right to equal participation, and access to information. Practically that is NOT YET true.]

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights […] Everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers" (UN General Assembly, 1948).

The United Nations promised these rights to every person on planet Earth as early as 1948, but unfortunately, more then 70 years later, we have not yet reached the point of universally equal opportunities. This is because in all societies of the world certain groups continue to have disadvantages when it comes to opportunities for participation and influence, and thus also for self-realization and self-determined life.

Achieving equality begins in the mind, but the predominant view of human diversity has always been and still is based around the ideology of normality. However, it is hardly possible to create a society of equality without recognizing abilities that deviate from the „so-called norm“ as the actual norm.

This goal is pursued by the concept of inclusion, which is often misunderstood as an obstacle. In order to change the state of affairs and create a positive perception of inclusion as the opportunity it can be for the whole of society, it is essential to firstly understand and recognize human diversity and to secondly determine which decisions in the creation process of the world that surrounds us can lead to the exclusion of individuals. I will examine these aspects particularly in the area of education and self-determined access to information.

1.3. Knowledge-based society

[What is a knowledge-based society and what are its implications?]

According to current social theory, western societies are on their way of becoming knowledge-based societies. This describes a society in which knowledge increasingly becomes the basis of social and economic as well as medial coexistence. In its 2002 final statement, a commission set up by the german government to examine globalization states that the production and distribution of knowledge will in future take on a priority role in the creation of values and in social consciousness. They further say that the future belongs to knowledge processing (Enquete-Kommission, 2002).

Jürgen Mittelstraß supported this theory, saying that: "the generation of knowledge, the availability of knowledge, the application of knowledge and comprehensive knowledge management will increasingly determine the ways of living and working and thus also the structures of modern society (Mittelstraß, 2002)."

And as pointed out in a 2005 UNESCO World Report, "today, as in the past, the control of knowledge can go hand in hand with serious inequality, exclusion and social conflict. Knowledge was long the exclusive domain of tight circles of wise men and the initiated few (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2005)."

Already the Latin origin of the word (Latin verb informare, which means to give form, or to form an idea) suggests:. To be able to access information is not only the prerequisite for acquiring knowledge oneself, but also to be able to participate in the production of knowledge and thus participate in shaping our world.

More than ever before, information accessibility is essential to achieve the goal of fully implementing the human rights agenda. If and how individuals can access information has a great influence on if and how they are part of society and can actually make use of the rights that the global society has committed to provide them with. If knowledge is power, then information is the currency of that power. Those who are excluded from access to this currency have no access to power, even if it is only the power to lead their own lives in a self-determined way.

1.4. Human diversity and inclusive design in a knowledge based society

[What exactly does human diversity mean in relation inclusive content prperation in a knowledge based society?]‘‘

In their book 'Mismatch‘ Kar Holmes and John Maeda (2018) explain that "core elements of our identities are formed by our encounters with inclusion and exclusion. We decide where we belong and where we’re outsiders. It shapes our sense of value and what we believe we can contribute."

However, if information is to be made equally accessible to all the people it concerns, all users and their individual abilities must be taken into consideration in its creation. After all, people are not all equal, but rather the opposite is true. Acknowledging this fact, human diversity, is the first step towards creating an inclusive society.

This is where the importance of the preparation and design of information for the implementation of social inclusion becomes clear. In order to implement inclusion, people need equal access to information, in education and training as well as in self-determined learning. In order to ensure this, information must be created according to the principles of inclusion. This is the shared responsibility of all people involved in the creation of information that is made public in any form.

1.5. Overview of the following thesis

In the following text I will first explain how the concepts of segregation, integration and inclusion differ in concrete terms and why many approaches that are considered inclusive actually follow the principles of integration, in which everyone is drawn into a normalized system.

Then I will discuss the ideology of "normality" and by means of a historical analysis clarify why this ideology is an unrealistic social construct.

In order to further investigate these thoughts and to emphasize the importance of inclusion, I will examine the emotions connected to exclusion, as even seemingly insignificant disadvantages can have a strong emotional impact on the identity and self-confidence of individuals.

I will then discuss the benefits of inclusion to show in which way it can be seen as an opportunity for the whole of society.

In the following chapter, I will outline the importance of access to information for equal participation in a knowledge based society, explain the idea of "extended ergonomics" that I have developed and examine different media, digital as well as analogue, with regard to their importance for the inclusive communication of knowledge.

At this point, before drawing a conclusion, I will document the process and findings of my Master project, in which I will create a compendium for the inclusive creation of information. I will show how I use aspects of human diversity as a starting point for the structuring I have undertaken. Furthermore, I will present findings from a survey conducted within the project.