Forget accessibility.
Think inclusive design.

Nicolas Steenhout


Street sign against a background of tall buildings. The word caveat is on the sign.

Blind and in a wheelchair

A man in a wheelchair being pulled by a large black mobility assistance dog.

Blind and in a wheelchair

A man in a wheelchair being pulled by a large black mobility assistance dog.

You don't know what you don't know

Communication technology

A very old phone hanging on a wall.

Communication theory

Cartoon drawing of two people. The left person has the word Transmitter above their head. The one on the right has the word Receiver above their head. Between the two is a graphic of communication antennas with the word channel. Arrows point right from the transmitter to the channel, then from the channel to the receiver. A curved arrow points from the receiver to the transmitter.

Frustrating experiences

A grimacing man with his head against a brick wall.

Using all tools

A variety of old pliers and screwdrivers, some of them rusty.


A wheelchair user looking up at the entrance of a building on top of a long flight of steps.

1 in 4

4 stick figures. 1 is red, 3 are grey.

Temporary impairments

Nic showing two broken wrists, in fiberglass casts.

Situational impairments

A parent holding a young baby in one arm and a cell phone in the other hand.

Us vs Them

A black chess piece facing several white chess pieces.

Thinking outside the box

A cardboard storage box.

Deaf staff and blind staff

Figure of a woman with the deaf symbol above her head, and a figure of a man with the blindness symbol above his head.


  • 23 years old
  • Quadriplegic
  • Stuck in nursing home

Give people a chance

  • 25 years old
  • Quadriplegic
  • Independent
  • Entrepreneur

Cost of technology

Then - $4,000

An old dynavox communication machine with 8 rows of 16 buttons and a small LCD screen.

Now - $500

A small digital tablet standing upright on a stand.

Good for everyone

A cartoon with dozens of diverse people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, abilities.


Screenshots of web pages for an architecture firm where the text is light grey on white or grey backgrounds.


A list with 4 checkboxes and labels really close by

Curb Cuts

Narrow street corner with curb cuts on each side, and a stroller pushed by a parent engaging the crossing.

Accessibility Checklist

A hand holding a pen, checking items off on a handwritten checklist on paper.

Equality and Equity

Two side by side graphics. The left graphic shows three children standing each on a box behind a wooden fence. The tall kid can see well above the fence. The middle height kid can also see above the fence. The short kid is too short to see above the fence, despite standing on a box. The right graphic shows the same kids with the same fence. Except the tall kid isn't standing on a box. He can still see above the fence. The short kid now stands on two stacked boxes and can see above the fence.

Barrier free

The same three kids as per the previous story. They are now all standing on the ground and the wooden fence was replaced by a chain link fence.


Accessibility is a tech solution to a human problem.

Nicolas Steenhout

He tangata

He aha te mea nui o te ao

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

Māori proverb

The people

What is the most important thing in the world?

The people, the people, the people

Māori proverb

Thinking outside the box

A cardboard storage box.

Smash the box

An old wooden mallet.


Questions?    Thank you!

Nicolas Steenhout