Promoting Information Accessibility through Visual Communication Design: Some implications for current practitioners.

Annie House (Deakin University)
2017 Conference

In Australia, it is reported that one in five people have a disability. On a global scale people living with a disability may account for anywhere between 20 and 60 per cent of the population. Whilst there are many different forms of disability it can be difficult to obtain accurate statistical data as the term is complex, dynamic, relative and often linked uniquely to culture. In contemporary society, disability is considered part of ‘human diversity’ and persons living with a disability are represented in almost every section of our community: they purchase goods, work, travel and require access to information. When people have access to information they are equipped to make informed decisions about their life. These decisions may be simple or more difficult in nature however, to date, people with specialised needs have been underrepresented and given little regard in relation to their information accessibility requirements.

Although no two people experience their disability in the same way there is still great socialand economic value in the continuous exploration of inclusive design for persons with and without cognitive impairments. This paper focuses on visual communication design; examining print-based materials in society and how they might be made efficient for all.

Whilst there have been many calls to apply design thinking to the specific needs of people living with a cognitive impairment, there has been little rigor in the application of theories in the field. This research examines an identified gap in the disability sector which can be addressed by the consideration and delivery of better visual communication design.

Examination will focus on the role a designer can play in improving information accessibility and discusses a range of issues which may inhibit inclusive design led practice. Some of these issues include, but are not necessarily limited to a designer’s understanding of: the notion of the user’s ‘disability’, visual literacy and how the characteristics of a font might enhance information accessibility for people categorised at or below level 1 literacy.

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About the author

Annie House is a postgraduate student in the school of creative arts at Deakin University. Annie Completed her undergraduate studies in Visual Communication Design in 2016 at Deakin’s Waterfront Campus. Annie’s design practice has seen her work with local council, NFP’s and other institutions that has influenced her study into the role design plays in the lives of those with disabilities. Annie is currently conducting further studies in this area to better understand what role she can play as a designer to improve information design and accessibility for a defined group within society.