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Inclusive design

Inclusive design benefits everyone

Inclusive design is the design of mainstream products and services that are accessible to and usable by as many people as possible.

Read our reports funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust about inclusive design:

Also see:

Inclusive design

Features that make products usable for disabled and older people can often make them easier to use for everyone. This is particularly helpful when people have to cope with short-term impairments.

Bendy bus
Bus with low floor and ramp
Phone with larger buttons
Flatscreen TV
Digital TV with subtitles and AD
mixer tap
Lever tap

What are the benefits?

One in five adults has difficulty doing everyday tasks. Meanwhile, the population of the UK is ageing. By 2035, nearly 1 in 4 will be aged over 65 years.

Research shows that inclusive products and services can reach a wider market, improve customer satisfaction, reduce customer returns, complaints and queries and strengthen brand reputation.

Our inclusive design work

We identify the features that can make mainstream products and services more inclusive by evaluating their usability for a range of users - including disabled and older people. This helps products reach a wider market.

It can also mean that fewer disabled or older consumers will need separate special services or assistive products.

We have carried out research on these mainstream products:

Smart metering energy displays

  • Commissioned by Consumer Focus, British Gas and E.ON
  • User trials and focus groups with 36 people including disabled and non-disabled people and older people
  • The result: usability good practice design guidance, aimed at improving usability for all

Grocery Packaging

  • Plastic milk bottles - commissioned by Nampak
  • ​Food packaging - commissioned by M&S
  • Testing to CEN TS 15945

Mobile phone features

  • Commissioned by the Communications Consumer Panel that advises Ofcom
  • User trials and focus groups with 64 people including disabled and non-disabled people and older people
  • Identified simple improvements to handsets that would benefit all users

Digital TV

  • Commissioned by the Government to test and report on the ease of use of over 500 digital TV products to support the UK's Digital Switchover, 2005-2012
  • Joint usability product testing with Intertek MK of digital TVs, digital recorders, set top boxes and universal remotes
  • Usability testing of on-screen switchover messaging


Historical inclusive product reports researched and written by RIDC


  • Choosing domestic appliances that are aesy to use  -  series of 7 guides, jointly published by Rica (the old name for RiDC), Which? and Department of Health, 1997
  • Making you kitchen easier to use, published by B&Q, 1999
  • Making domestic appliances easy to use, series of 5 guides, published by Comet, 2000
  • Inclusive Design - products that are easy for everybody to use, published by Disability Rights Commission 2003


We like these inclusively designed products:

  • dropped kerbs
  • wheeled suitcases
  • speech recognition and speech-to-text output on mobile phones and PCs
  • automatic features on cars, such as gears, windows, wing mirrors, central locking and adjustable seats

Last updated: August 2019

See also: Promoting inclusive design | Our consumer research panel