Google’s Guide To Designing With Empathy


According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion people worldwide have a disability. To Astrid Weber and Jen Devins, Google’s resident accessibility experts, that stat should be stamped on the back of every designer’s hand, because it means that one out of every seven people on the planet is potentially left behind by thoughtless design decisions. At this year’s Google I/O conference in San Francisco, I sat down with the two UX experts and asked them what designers could do to make their apps more accessible. The key, they told me, was using your imagination and having a little more empathy. Here are six ways designers can reach that extra billion.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.