It’s human nature to view the world from what we personally know, from our singular perspectives. For most of us, that is through an abled lens of the world. The abled accept certain things as fact: that humans are bipeds, they have two arms, 10 digits, can see, hear, etc. Products are by and large designed for that singular prototype that is etched in our collective minds. This is referred to as the “normal” or “typical” human mind and body.
But interest and innovation don’t happen in the ordinary or the mundane. Brand innovation never comes from an easy, comfortable place. It happens when we are forced to take notice. It comes from embracing an idea that is different and normalizing it. This is the difference between a product and a brand. Products are simply basic prototypes. Brands have a distinct point of view.
When we look at the world through the eyes of someone whose features don’t match the category norm prototype that a product or experience was designed for, we quickly realize the cornucopia of opportunities to improve the brand experience for all.
Because of this, it's imperative that brands look at each product, each communication, and each positioning through lenses of differently-abled people. Reaching out to them, listening, and really understanding their challenges and needs will have unexpected results. By solving for some disabilities, you may in fact be improving the lives of more people than you even realize.
Aging eyes may struggle to read that beautiful tone on tone package. Those with Color Vision Deficiency mistakenly grab the wrong package, because red and green values are hard to differentiate between. Hands crippled by arthritis, temporarily restrained by a cast, or even occupied holding an infant may mean the difference between using a product and cursing it. The child with a physical disability only sees someone who looks like themselves in advertising that holds them up as other, special, or someone to be pitied (inspiration porn).
The reality is you can’t solve for everything. You can’t — and shouldn’t — be all things to all people. What you can do is seize the chance to innovate and change the conversation about how to see things differently and make a positive difference in the lives of those who are all too often overlooked.