The topic this week is inclusive design — making sure widening the reach of your creative projects, attracting greater diversity, not being discriminatory and making it accessible to all. When I first started reading this lecture I wasn’t too sure how it related to graphic design specifically. I could definitely see how it related to gaming, animation, film and television, and maybe even audio, but I struggled to find the connection to graphic design. There was a section that related to vision impairment but it only discussed colour blindness and as my teacher pointed out, if a client wants a red logo, it’s not likely they will pick a different colour just because there’s a one in seven chance of people who won’t see it as red. So what did I do? Research of course. In the next few paragraphs I’ll try and tell you a little bit about what I’ve found out.
One aspect of inclusive design is accessibility. As it says in the lecture, this can include people with visual impairments, anyone who has hearing difficulties, mobility impairments or people with cognitive disabilities. This video (and the website) outlines the importance of accessibility:
What is Inclusive Design? Here is a definition of it:
Inclusive design is design that is inclusive of the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference. Designing inclusively makes better experiences for everyone.
For graphic design specifically it means:
Creating messaging which is as accessible as possible to the widest audience as possible. Not only is it good practice, the more inclusive your literature or online presence is, the wider your reach.
With the notion of making the experience better for everyone, I came across the idea or the suggestion that it would be good to actually incorporate inclusive thinking into your design process so that it won’t matter who your project is being created for it will just be one of the steps you follow. To be inclusive it is important to understand and empathise with people, i.e. who the design is being created for, their needs, their wants, their beliefs. This is illustrated in a video put out by the Design Council:
In the video, they also discuss the importance of design being inclusive from the start. It is important for projects to not be specifically made for someone who is disabled because in some situations it could make the viewer uncomfortable. I liked the line that was something along the lines of “designs shouldn’t shout inclusive, it should just be inclusive.”
Paul Nini discusses how graphic design is both exclusive and inclusive. In an article he wrote “the actual practice of graphic design is most powerful when an inclusive approach is used” and goes on to give the example of the ‘election design’ project. This project involved the design of new ballots and other materials necessary for an election. The project was successful because the designers took an inclusive, user centred approach and made sure the material could be easily used and accessible by all.
Ewelina Woloszyn outlines three problems which are specific to graphic designers and offers some suggestions on how to address them to be more inclusive in your designs. The first condition is dyslexia — the difficulty of reading or interpreting words, letters and symbols. Woloszyn suggests its more comfortable for someone with dyslexia to have the type on a coloured background and the colour of both the background and the type is also important (think about the contrast).
The other two conditions are sight loss and colour blindness. While it may be hard to accommodate colour blindness in all designs you work on, there are still a number of considerations to think of. Some of these are outlined in an article by Alex Bigman – “Why all designers need to understand colourblindness”.
After this weeks lecture and the research I’ve done, I believe it’s important to be inclusive when working on graphic design projects. I realise that in some cases it might not be possible to be inclusive but I believe it is still important to look at the project from a different point of view and rethink the functionality of the design. In the end, it all comes back to how important it is to understand the customer and the client.
As always, many thanks to those who have taken the time to read this. Hope you enjoyed it.
Bigman, A. (2015). Why all designers need to understand colourblindness. Retrieved from: https://99designs.com/designer-blog/2013/04/17/designers-need-to-understand-color-blindness/
Boho Creative. (2015). Inclusive Graphic Design. Retrieved from: http://www.weareboho.co.uk/services/inclusive-graphic-design/
Design Council. (2014). Inclusive Design: from the pixel to the city. Retrieved from: http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/inclusive-design-pixel-city
Nini, P. (2009). Exclusive + Inclusive: The Twofold Nature of Graphic Design. Retrieved from: http://www.thinkingforaliving.org/archives/1301
RGD. (2015). RGD: Accessibility For All. Retrieved from: http://rgd-accessibledesign.com
Woloszyn, E. (2011). Inclusive design guidelines booklets. Retrieved from: https://www.behance.net/gallery/1469095/Inclusive-design-guidelines-booklets