“Dad, why do people with disabilities park in the front of the mall?”

“Well, Max, the people who own malls want to ensure that those who have some sort of disability can have an easier time getting in and out of the mall so they can enjoy their shopping.”

I am going to do something I don't typically do with a column. I am issuing a challenge.

For those of you who feel you do a great job creating meaningful customer experiences, think of the best project you have ever done. Now, think of your user in a wheelchair. Or with a hearing aid. Or with a cane. Or with a guide dog.

This seemingly innocent conversation between the most insightful nine-year old I know and me has me thinking about the numerous boundaries that hinder those with disabilities and the world of experience design.

Inclusive Improvements

Since the inception of user experience (UX) and digital experience (DX), we have been pushing the envelope world to create compelling new vehicles to promote and showcase brands and services.

But more often than not, we are creating them with an ideal user in mind — someone with all five senses in working order, someone with all physical attributes and abilities — in other words, those people who don’t have to park in specially designated parking spaces.

I was talking with a few people in the business to see if this ideal was too far in left field. Their responses, albeit not scientific or on-record, were quite telling. One person shared that there is only so much we can do with an assignment. Another person told me he had never thought of that idea before.

I am not trying to call people out here. What I am doing is trying to see if we can tap resources to create new sources of opportunity (and perhaps, even revenues for those who want it).

Reasonable Accommodation

The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 was written to protect people based on any sort of disability. he goal was to afford as many accommodations to those who are disabled or have some sort of handicap.

In doing a Google search for “user experience for disabled” I found posts and web pages like this one. Maybe there are issues about what constitutes a disability, as some have previously shared.

I totally get it — we’re not discriminating intentionally. But if my friends in the business are any indication, we need to start thinking broader about how ALL people can experience the things we’re creating.

One of the things I love about writing for CMSWire is learning so much about the world around me. I hope enough of you out there feel the same way I do—and that you can see how your work can solve problems in addition to merely addressing a need either your client or you feel is out there.

Take the Challenge

So going back to my challenge, I would like to hear from the CMSWIRE community (and beyond) who are doing great things with UX and DX to make the lives of disabled people more inclusive. Send me a tweet or shoot me a note on LinkedIn to talk about what you’re doing. This is not a pure-play promo opportunity (remember, I’m in PR and can sniff that out quickly).

I will kick things off with a project that a friend of mine asked me to think about:

"Safe to say, we take eating for granted. We can go to a grocery store and experience the sights and sounds of the store. For those who rely on feeding tubes to get any sort of nutrition or sustenance, those experiences are often lost. A company called Real Food Blends was created to give people real food without the fillers. Now, something as simple as a replacement food product is solving the problem of 'how to eat.' These people are getting a piece of their life back, and the company is looking for ideas on how to create a user experience their customer base has rarely ever had."

I bet we can put our heads together and impact the lives of other people and create experiences that really matter.

Title image by Gerard Moonen