Building the Lab
May 20, 2022

One Year Later: What's Next for the Lab

One Year Later: What's Next for the Lab

Before anything else, I want to kick this post off by thanking everyone for their love and support over the past year. Thank you for being a part of the community and helping us get to where we are today. Whether you simply follow us on social media, whether you're part of our community, whether you attended a seminar, whether you attended an event, whether you joined one of our projects, whether you've made use of our resources, or whether you've supported us more directly: THANK YOU. When we first launched the initiative on May 20th, 2021 (Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021), I never thought we'd grow this much.

Here's a summary of how the past year went by the numbers:

  • 850+ Discord server members
  • 400+ seminar registrations
  • 21 seminars
  • 8+ community support sessions (office hours)
  • 5 Discord Talks events + 1 IG Live event
  • 3 group projects

I'm super proud of these numbers, but I'm also just as proud of the less noticeable/quantitative progress we made. For example, we onboarded a team of volunteers to help us grow the initiative. All volunteers are community members. In other words, we are community-led - this is something I'm super proud of. We've also seen such incredible connections and conversations amongst community members on our platforms (Discord, Seminars, Projects, etc.). At the end of the day, this is why we do what we do - to inspire these connections and conversations. Speaking of conversation, we covered so many important topics in our seminars ranging from Inclusive Design to Psychology in Design to Accessibility to Storytelling in Design to so many others. You can expect more topics like these coming soon. I'm also so thankful to all of our guest speakers. Thank you to Trina, Maureen, Zab, Kim, Estie, and everyone else who's been there for our community. Y'all are the best.

With all of that said, I'm proudest of the progress we continue to make in championing diversity and inclusion in design, with a specific focus on beginners. We initially set out to loudly promote Inclusive Design to help make it the standard one day in UX specifically. We've worked towards this, and we continue to work towards this.

As I reflect on this progress, I've also been thinking about the future of the Lab and where we go next. After an entire year of assessing our progress, months of reflection, weeks of preparation, and consulting with the community, we've decided to expand our mission. Moving forward, we'll no longer only focus on UX through an Inclusive Design lens.

Our new mission is:

Making tech more diverse and inclusive by supporting diverse career seekers and promoting inclusive practices for technologists and designers.

We will expand our intention and focus on tech as a whole. Diversity and inclusion is important in tech in general, not just UX Design specifically. All technologists and designers must consider diversity and inclusion as they build our digital futures. More specifically, inclusive practices should be the standard way of building products. Currently, inclusive practices are niche across the board, not just in UX Design specifically. In other words, this change and expansion is about scaling our impact. There is more work to be done across the board, and I'm excited to have you join us as we make for a better tech future.

We will make tech more diverse and inclusive in two ways:

  1. By supporting beginners and career changers seeking diverse careers in tech and design.
  2. By promoting inclusive practices in tech and design across the board.

Now, that leads me to the name of the initiative. We launched as Inclusion Design Lab, or IDL for short. I've always been super proud of this name. However, now that we intend to scale beyond design and as we look to tech in general, our name no longer fits. Separately, I've been working on another initiative named Rita Creative, where we were building a product to support diverse entrepreneurs. After noticing too many similarities and realizing it's difficult to thoughtfully grow and manage two initiatives, we will now be merging these two efforts and merging the two names. So, moving forward, we will be Rita Creative Lab. Introducing Rita Creative Lab! This new name fits our larger focus better and creates a more welcoming entry point for anyone who wants to get in tech or design through the "creative" angle. Now, some of you may be wondering who Rita is. Well, that requires its own post. :)

For now, I welcome you to join us in this new chapter. To those who have been supporting us, I hope to continue to have your support. We're truly only just getting started, and I couldn't be more excited. So, let's do the damn thing!

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