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A more inclusive and human Latin America through Inclusive Design

Latin America, a place of many possibilities or needs, according to its perspective, where Design is the great catalyst and aggregator of visions and innovations that serve that great continent.

There is a lot to do and design in the Latin American context, basic needs that the government could not, did not want or could not resolve in time.

I would like to talk about a fundamental issue for the future of Latin America and design: Inclusion.

A great and common challenge of design in Latin America is the teaching of design, it must stop being traditional and isolated, and become a dynamic and collaborative teaching that must modernize, accompany the world and its rapid pace. The design should permeate everything that is possible, mainly micro and small businesses.

But a major challenge still for Latin America and for design is the inclusion of its inhabitants with some physical or mental disability.

There is a population of 65 million people with disabilities in Latin America and the Caribbean, with around 5% in Mexico and 23% in Brazil, who urgently need design for a more dignified life, with quality, mobility and Financial Independence.

This integration into society in the different aspects of health, education, wellbeing and mainly productive will only take place through inclusive design, there is no other way.

We must see this question from two fundamental points: 1) criative economy and the evolution of design.

1) A current understanding that the 21st century economy is now also based on the use of knowledge resources, the so-called “knowledge economy”. It is no longer just a question of people with disabilities, who have their economic independence, being able to buy and pay taxes.

There must be an exploitation of the “differentiated capacities” of people with disabilities and their integration, for a significant role in the social and economic development of Latin America.

The future of design is deeply connected with this question of inclusion. There is no future without thinking about this part of the population that for now is unattended, and impacts the family and the environment. She is not just a person with a disability, but her family and community is also impacted by the absence of design.

When we speak of an inclusive design for the progress of the continent, it is not only its physical aspects, but other fundamental elements such as culture, innovation, knowledge, accessibility. This population brings other experiences, differentiated abilities that must be taken advantage of.

In this area of the criative economy, design has several futures and possibilities.

2) Fortunately, two elements are allowing the designer to change their practice and be more inclusive: design thinking and digital technologies.

Design thinking was always the creative domain of the designer, now this domain was shared and is present in business schools and large companies, where the designer is still present as a driver of the design process with the user to “co-create” a new product, service or specific experience.

The fundamental element of design thinking is empathy, which is the ability to understand the vision and needs of the “other”. Through empathy, the designer perceives the disabled user more closely and humanely, and from that, projects with him and not for him.

At the same time, digital technology accelerates this process, especially 3D printing. Thus the union of design thinking and digital technology come to radically change the design profession.

Thanks to this new collaborative context and without physical borders, greater participation and a degree of empathy are allowed for the creation of a new, more inclusive and innovative environment.

With a more inclusive society, we also have a more sustainable society from the human aspect and not just environmental. But that inclusion also leads to a behavioral change in society, since design is a tool for our relationship with ourselves and the world.

Design is a tool for education, for the perception of the world, old paradigms will fall thanks to design, which leads to empathy, not just during the project and research, but when ready, in the aspects of coexistence!

Fortunately, design can help solve human and environmental issues.

But for that Latin America must be more sustainable in all respects, human and inclusive with its inhabitants in order to be truly an example of innovation for the world.

Diseñador Industrial por la UAM-Azcapotzalco, México, Maestria en Diseño Sustentable por la Universidad de Bornemouth, Inglaterra. En Brasil actualmente como consultor de innovación de productos, servicios, modelos de negócios en los aspectos de sustentabilidad e inclusión.

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