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Insights / May 18, 2015


By Beth McKeever

This week’s theme is about understanding our own biases, and using that knowledge to make us more empathetic and better listeners.

Did you see this 3D-printed ultrasound last week? Many of the people around me had the same gut reaction upon seeing it for the first time: creepy. But the second they saw it, their judgement was clouded by their bias. They have sight! “#sightedbias!” I cried. The 3D-printed ultrasound was never meant for them. It was created for a blind mother, and it was an incredibly important and appropriate use of technology to help her bond with her child. Their feelings on the matter were irrelevant.

When the products and services we build are not for ourselves, which is often the case, we can’t lean on our own understanding of the world. We have to do our best to understand the needs and perspectives of the users we serve. While we can always employ tactics like user research and interviews to begin to understand their needs, we must first recognize our own biases. When we filter out what makes us tick, we can truly hear the needs of the user — the audience for which a product or service is meant. 

Often, our biases are more subtle than whether or not someone has a disability — they can be as simple as something quirky about the way we were raised. Not bad, just different. 

This week we’re seeking to understand ourselves and others better, and working to identify the various biases we each hold that steer us away from the right conversations and the path to empathy. And, if needed, calling each other out on those inherent biases that can be so hard to see in ourselves. 😉