Inclusive Design considers the full range of human diversity to deliver better apps and services experiences for everyone. This sprint introduces the principles and methods of inclusive design through immersive activities that challenge a team to shift their mindset and examine how they can create a broader beneficial impact with their work.

An inclusive approach starts with understanding how software experiences can unintentionally exclude people. The sprint continues with in-depth instruction of inclusive research and design methods that provide the team concrete ways to include more perspectives and create more inclusive results. For companies already committed to a corporate culture of diversity and inclusion, this sprint provides a guide to integrate those values into their work practices with tangible methods to provide better experiences for more customers.

Option 1: Run as a one-week, very-intensive sprint, focused learning the skills while creating a practice project. This option is described in more detail below.

Option 2: Run as a two- or three-week working sprint that combines skill building with working directly on the team’s app or service.

Expected outcomes

  1. The team members develop a personal connection to inclusive design and are able to explain the benefits of inclusion in software development.
  2. The team demonstrates the ability to identify mismatches in current apps and services and explains how to turn those into new design opportunities.
  3. The team is able to identify and describe user characteristics along a spectrum to represent both the range and the uniqueness of different users.
  4. The team demonstrates command of core inclusive research and design methods and how to incorporate them into common engineering practices including accessibility.


This sprint emphasizes hands-on learning, through a balance of explanation and activities, to explore inclusive transformation. Described here is the pace for a one-week sprint, using a practice project. Team members will spend a portion of the time in individual activities and a portion on a group project. This format allows for team members to examine both how to evolve their own thinking and how to integrate inclusive methods into the team's work. Each module includes an introduction to the selected concept, an individual activity, and then time for teams to apply this to the practice project. For team members who wish to go deeper, each module has additional readings and videos.

The groups and the topics for the practice project are picked at the end of the first day of the sprint. Its primary purpose is to provide continuity to the hands-on practice of the methods. It is scoped to be able to be completed during sprint time, but some groups may elect to do additional work outside of the sprint, to conduct additional research and to create a more complete solution.

The practice group project is done in small groups of 3-5 and follows the methods presented in the sprint. The project starts with discovery of an inclusive opportunity and continues through paper prototyping. Participants have the option of creating a higher-fidelity solution, as long as iteration and feedback methods are not skipped over.

Day 1, Part 1

Introduction to Inclusive Design Principles: Take the first steps to an inclusive mindset and to building software to embrace human diversity.

  • Principles of inclusive design
  • Impact of exclusion
  • Dimensions of diversity
  • Business case for inclusion
  • Form project groups

Focus on mindshift and personal connection to the topic. Establishes the core concepts that will be developed through the sprint.

(Alternate multi-week structure: Divide into two sessions and start second with business case discussion.)

Day 1, Part 2

Inclusive Research: Examine how exclusion occurs and impacts software use, learn specific inclusive research methods, re-frame problems around core human motivations, and re-think how to conduct customer interviews to get past the mismatches.

  • Mismatch
  • Motivations
  • Re-framing
  • Inclusive research methods
  • Interview methods
  • Project work time

The foundational step to inclusion is understanding how to shift both who you think your customers are and how you frame a problem / opportunity.

Day 2, Part 1

Observational Research: Apply inclusive research methods, to learn from people with different lived experiences, examine personal assumptions, and conduct field research to begin the group project.

  • Learn from others’ lived experience
  • Examine assumptions
  • Field research at nearby location
  • Project work time

Building on the previous module, gain a broader understanding of different lived experiences and conduct field research to identify mismatches and to put into practice inclusive research methods.

Day 2, Part 2

Identify the Inclusive Opportunity: Evaluate research findings, to uncover which mismatches expose the best openings for making software more inclusive through improved design.

  • Synthesis of research findings
  • Identify mismatches
  • Evaluate inclusive opportunity
  • Project work time

The core power of inclusive design rests on uncovering where existing products are causing exclusion.

Day 3

Deeper Topics: Move to solutions and ideation by building on the selected inclusive opportunity, deliberately expand understand of the possible solutions through understanding spectrum of characteristics and multi-sensory communication, examine risks of exclusion in the solution ideas when using ML and AI, and introduce accessibility standards.

  • Understand spectrum of characteristics
  • Explore multi-sensory approach to UI
  • Identify exclusion and bias risks in ML and AI
  • Introduce accessibility standards
  • Create spectrum for project
  • Project work time

This day expands on the principles of inclusive design to examine how software can unintentionally cause exclusion, and introduces a powerful method—spectrum of characteristics—for keeping projects on track. These topics are the foundation of the modules that follow.

(Alternate multi-week structure: Divide into two sessions, with the first focusing on spectrum and AI/ML, and the second on multi-sensory solutions and accessibility.)

Day 4, Part 1

Ideate and Iterate, Part 1: Start with mismatches and spectrum to imagine new solutions to the problem uncovered during research, and learn inclusive design methods for ideation and iteration, grounded in understanding a range of user needs aligned to their motivations.

  • Ideate from mismatches
  • Iterate using spectrum to structure
  • Project work time

Begin to apply the deeper topics to the project work by addressing mismatches and mapping the spectrum. This module provides the hands-on practice with these essential inclusive methods.

Day 4, Part 2

Ideate and Iterate, Part 2: Expand on solution ideas to generate multiple interactive models supporting different senses and different types of interactions, generate new UI to support multi-sensory engagement, and explore how different physical situations disrupt normal interaction patterns and benefit from multi-sensory designs.

  • Ideate multi-sensory interaction designs
  • Iteration using situation and context to structure
  • Project work time

Going beyond visually-centered interfaces opens up new ways to solve interaction problems. Learning this fluency with multiple modes enables designs to reach more users and to function in more physical situations.

Day 4, Part 3

Iterate and Prototype: Design for inclusion, including bringing in accessibility standards as an up-front requirement, iterate solution ideas to continue to remove mismatches, and learn how to write guidelines and code samples to ensure consistent implementation.

  • Integrate accessibility fundamentals
  • Use access to identify persistent mismatches
  • Iterate to complete solution
  • Define project accessibility standards
  • Write design guidelines and code samples for project
  • Project work time

All inclusive projects must, of course, meet accessibility standards. It is important for the team to experience doing this as part of development, rather than retrofitting it later, in order for the resulting solution to operate smoothly.

Day 5

Telling the Story: Examine personal and project bias, using reflection and a framework of types of biases, explore the uses and limits of simulation, and learn inclusive methods to get feedback on solution ideas. Finish the sprint with final presentations of the practice group project and reflection.

  • Examine bias
  • Evaluate solutions using simulation
  • Internalize limits of simulation
  • Discuss ways to get feedback inclusively
  • Project work time (presentations)
  • Present final projects
  • Reflect on work practices

Critical to shifting one’s mindset is the opportunity for feedback and reflection. This module looks at the project in the context of bias, offering the students the opportunity to reflect on their personal perspective on inclusion and how to integrate it into their work practices.

(Alternate multi-week structure: Divide into two sessions. Start second session with presentation preparation.)