Logo of the Centre for Business Innovation in Cambridge UK

Centre for Business Innovation

“Creating Collaborative Communities”
CfBI Blog

CfBI Twitter@C4BI

Centre for Business Innovation Limited on LinkedIn

European Inclusive Design Consortium      
“delight your customers with winning products”


Increase sales, reduce costs and improve their market position through applying the principles of Inclusive Design to their products and services.

Inclusive Design in Action

Members of the ID2 consortium using University of Cambridge simulation glasses and empathy gloves to evaluate a check-in terminal at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2

Inclusive Design can be defined as:

"The design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible....without the need for special adaptation or specialised design"

Inclusive Design is neither a new genre of design, nor a separate specialism.  It is a novel approach to designing in which designers ensure that their products and services address the needs of the widest possible audience, irrespective of age or ability.  As illustrated below, even where only a minority of people are excluded from using a product or service, a significant additional set of people may have difficulty or be frustrated when they try to use it.


Companies such as Ford, BT, Nestlé, OXO Good Grips and BSkyB have already successfully applied the principles of Inclusive Design to their products.

Many leading companies now have excellent provision for people with single major impairments, including wheelchair users and people who are blind or deaf. Through this new consortium we are helping companies take the next step in practically applying Inclusive Design to mainstream products used by a much wider set of consumers.

A key target for the programme is learning how to better serve the large population of consumers who suffer from 'multiple minor impairments'. Many elderly people fall into this category. There are already 130 million people over fifty years old in the European Union - by 2020 one in two European adults will be over this age. Designing products that these people love to use is no longer just socially responsible, it also makes sound economic sense.

Cambridge University Engineering Design Centre (EDC) is a leading exponent of Inclusive Design in Europe. The CfBI has recognised the scale of opportunity afforded by applying new techniques in Inclusive Design to significantly improve the competitive position of many products and services that interface to the consumer.

“Through its close links with Cambridge University, the CfBI has brought together leading researchers and practitioners from the EDC and elsewhere to deliver a second one-year consortium programme (ID-2) where companies are learning together, sharing experiences and receiving practical support in exploiting this major new business opportunity.  Its members include: Transport for London, Heathrow Airport, Proctor and Gamble, John Lewis, Waitrose, GSK, Stora Enso, Alexander Dennis, Glen Dimplex and Morphy Richards.

 The third Inclusive Design Consortium (ID-3) is now in planning.  ID-3 will develop an enhanced version of the EDC’s well-known Exclusion Calculator.  The Calculator enables designers to formally assess the demand required to carry out a task (e.g. unwrapping a product, getting onto a bus) across a full range of human abilities, including vision, hearing, cognition, reach and dexterity and mobility.  It uses a unique dataset which captures the occurrence of multiple capability impairments across the UK population.

The Calculator outputs the percentage of the UK population that would be excluded from carrying out the task, due to the demand required exceeding their capabilities.  Designers can use this information to direct their attention to changes which will include the maximum number of potential customers at minimum cost.  Previous projects have actually shown that inclusively designed products can come out cheaper than previous versions – often through simplification of the design by removing elements of the product or its packaging.

The new ID-3 Consortium will extend the current Calculator to allow whole User Journeys to be analysed in detail and percentage population exclusions to be calculated.  This will allow designers to evaluate alternative design options for products and services much faster than has previously been possible.

Companies joining the Consortium can expect to make back the cost of participation (including cost of staff time) through increased sales and/or reduced costs of their first Inclusively Designed product.

Participation in the Consortium can form part of an integrated staff training and development programme, delivering valuable new skills within existing budget allocations.”

Visit the Inclusive Design Toolkit Website.