Posted On Monday, January 29, 2024
Author: Donna Watson (Technical Support Administrator)
Ahoy, fellow design enthusiasts and recruiters! Gather 'round as I spin a yarn about my adventures in the fantastical world of inclusive design and how it shaped my destiny in the realms of work and life
Picture this: 2019, a year of juggling studies and various design gigs. As a budding designer, I navigated through Finnish start-ups, wielding my skills like a wizard with a graphic design wand. But career goals? Nah, the main quest was to manage the chaos of late teens and early 20s.
Expectations were a tricky beast for me. High school classes? Skipped. Art studies? Unfinished. Yet, I found joy in a myriad of activities when I had the freedom to choose. My rebellious spirit clashed with societal norms, resulting in academic punishments and scolding. Little did I know that my unique approach would lead me to the world of UX at Nordea.
Fast forward to 2019, a new job at Nordea, and then... a wild virus appears! Remote work, my preferred modus operandi, finally took the stage. Confession time: panic attacks in public transport and office lights made me nauseous. Pandemic-induced remote work became my elixir of relief. Little did I know, it would uncover hidden interests in design processes, interaction design, and systems thinking.
In the midst of my design escapades, a revelation struck in late 2020—I'm autistic! Cue the skeptics with their "You're not autistic" chants. But the diagnosis brought clarity. It wasn't just a label; it was a key unlocking my unique design powers.
Enter the social model of disability. Accessibility as a methodology became my North Star, shaping my identity both personally and professionally. I delved into Cathy O'Neil's "Weapons of Math Destruction" and Kat Holmes's "Mismatch," expanding my understanding of inclusive design.
Forget the quantitative approach; I questioned the concept of an average state. Should I consider myself an edge case? Microsoft's Inclusive Design Principles guided my newfound design philosophy: recognize exclusion, learn from diversity, solve for one, extend to many.
As I sailed through my design career, the pandemic shaped my views on work, community, and values. Armed with a newfound awareness of my neurodivergence, my professional goals became crystal clear. I openly shared my experiences, making presentations and breaking the corporate ice.
Yet, uncertainty looms. Rejections came, praise followed, but there was always a "mismatch." The European Disability Forum sheds light on employment gaps between disabled and non-disabled individuals. But my journey isn't over; each rejection fuels my determination to be a part of the change.
In my dreams, I envision a world where diversity is celebrated, and outdated notions of averages are cast into oblivion. The path may be challenging, but each day is a reminder of the work ahead—a work I'm eager to embrace. The journey continues, and I, a designer in the recruitment universe, am ready to champion inclusivity and sail through the uncharted waters of design evolution. Onward, my fellow adventurers, to a future where everyone's unique design powers are recognized and celebrated! 🚀✨