Ad Age is marking Disability Pride Month 2023 with our Honoring Creative Excellence package, in which members of the disability community revisit some of their favorite creative projects. (Read the introduction here.) Today, Christina Mallon, director of inclusive design at Microsoft, writes about the importance of co-designing with users with different lived experiences than your own.
At the start of my professional career, my arms slowly became paralyzed. The transition to “disabled” was challenging but has never slowed me down for a second. As a young designer beginning my career with a “disability,” I felt underrepresented as a consumer. After studying design and disability history, I started to understand that my difficulties were caused by poor design decisions that made it difficult for my neurodivergent brain to learn or my paralyzed arms to engage with a product or experience. Rather than being discouraged, I recognized the opportunity to grow awareness and make a measurable impact.