Inclusive: A Design Toolkit

One of the greatest shortcomings of human-centered design is its lack of guidance on how to include diversity as part of the design process. Which human, exactly, belongs in the center? Most designers end up using their own abilities and experience as a baseline for their designs. This problem is even more pronounced for the predominantly young and able-bodied designers that work in technology. The result is products that work well for people with similar abilities and resources, but end up largely excluding everyone else. This is especially true for roughly 1 billion people on the planet with disabilities.

To address these issues I led the development of Inclusive Design at Microsoft, which Fast Company called “a radical evolution of design thinking”. We publically published the fundamentals of our approach in Inclusive: A Microsoft Design Toolkit, which is now used by companies and universities around the world. It outlines clear and simple steps to making diversity and disability a source of innovation. The toolkit consists of a manual, activities, and videos of subject matter experts. As we designed the toolkit our top objective was to make it accessible, beautiful, and authentic to the true diversity of human beings. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Today, this toolkit is widely referenced by people who want to design great solutions for the greatest number of people. In 2017, it received an Interaction Design Association award and was recognized by Fast Company as a World Changing Idea.

The Manual

The manual is a comprehensive introduction to the world of inclusive design. Learn the basics and shift your design thinking toward universal solutions.


The activity cards and support cards are designed to be integrated into your design process. Jump-start creative thinking and stress-test concepts through an inclusive lens.

Expert Videos

Inclusive design focuses on including people who have been systematically excluded from your product or experience. We partnered with a range of experts on inclusion to share their stories with as many people as possible. These videos help designers shift their mindset, put humans first, and build empathy.

The Toolkit In Practice

We've developed a suite of workshops based on the Inclusive toolkit, using inclusive design to transform products and cultures. To date we've led these courses with over 5,000 people around the world. Although we initially focused on physical disability and diversity, we are constantly pushing forward into areas of cognitive and social inclusion. As we learn, the toolkit grows and evolves with us. To learn more contact Kat Holmes at this link.