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What is the reason for lack of accessible graphic design?

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  • What is the reason for lack of accessible graphic design?

    Hello everyone,
    I am currently doing my Graphic design Thesis and I am trying to find out whether or not graphic designers are implementing accessible design. I would like to hear your opinions about whether or not its possible to implement accessible graphic design (To create graphic design work that can be easily read by the visually impaired).

    - Do you as a designer implement accessibility? Why or why not?
    - Do you think it is possible to implement accessible graphic design?
    - Do you know how to make your work accessible by the visually impaired?
    Designers are not aware about the topic
    Accessible design restricts creativity
    There are not enough tools or recourse to learn bout accessible design

  • #2
    Clients hire graphic designers for specific purposes. If the client doesn't request making the work more accessible to various constituencies, it's not going to happen if doing so adversely affects the functionality or cost of what's being designed.

    For example, presbyopia affects nearly everyone over 40 (reading glasses anyone). Increasing the point size of printed text might very well improve the readability of the material for a significant portion of the target audience, so it becomes worth it to the client. However, making further modifications to enhance readability for more severely sight-impaired readers could involve more significant changes that benefit far fewer individuals in ways that do not benefit the primary target audience and might even adversely affect both the cost and effectiveness of the project. In this situation, it's unlikely that the client will request or agree to those kinds of design modifications.

    Graphic designers can only go so far in implementing various kinds of accessibility features. When it's possible, great, but we can't really push the issue too far on for-hire work done for others. Graphic designers should be aware of accessibility concerns and remedies, but addressing this issue effectively will require an acknowledgement by clients and employers that it's important. Honestly, though, it's not anywhere near the top of the list of concerns for most of them.


    • #3
      There are standard options that can be added to any website without compromising the design or affecting the way the website is viewed by most people.

      Buttons for larger text, text to speech, enhanced contrast etc. will all enable accessibility without too much extra work for the designer.
      Time flies like an arrow - fruit flies like a banana


      • #4
        I didn't answer your poll at the top because your question is too broad. As B pointed out, there are varying degrees of visual impairment. With a printed piece you can only go so far when making the design accessible to the far end of the impairment spectrum.

        With Wayfinding and Experiential design though, it is important to consider visually and physically challenged individuals. In the US, public space access is codified in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA guidelines)

        You absolutely have to follow the ADA guidelines with respect to interior building emergency wayfinding. For instance stairwell signage has to be a certain letter height and have a high degree of color contrast, not only for the visually impaired, but for anyone trying to exit in low light or smoky situations.

        There are codified heights and locations for all room locators signs, whether they need braille, raised tactile letters, or both, or neither.

        If you do tactile maps, there are varying degrees of compliance regarding how objects are represented, the size and font and case of the lettering, how the Braille interacts with the lettering and so on.

        If you do museum exhibits, especially for a government entity like the National Park Service, there is a whole schedule of accessibility issues that need to be considered while designing. Everything from acceptable font sizes and styles to height and placement of interactive stations for wheelchair access.

        With the advent of computer gaming-style educational interactives, there is indeed a challenge in making those accessible, sometimes to the point where an alternative exhibit has to be considered.

        I certainly do believe that colleges should be touching on this subject because of the ADA requirements for the graphic design industry in some of its niche environments.

        NPR recently had an interview with a blind man in how to make the internet more accessible. For instance, his reader did not recognize the little magnifying glass as a ''search'' icon so he did not know where the search box was. Simply putting a bit of grayed out text there would have helped immeasurably.

        I don't know if you are in the US or not, but here are some links:
        Last edited by PrintDriver; 12-20-2016, 07:28 AM.


        • #5
          Good graphic design always accounts for the target audience, and a good designer knows and weighs the need for "accessibility" among the members of that audience. Unfortunately, good design is not automatic, and there are plenty of graphic design applications where under-qualified persons are carrying out the execution. So, there are many documents and other designs deployed that are not friendly to the visually impaired, but should be. (My wife is visually impaired so there's a particular sensitivity to this in my house.) In fact, many designs appear to be formulated with accessibility-opposed objectives in play. (See the reverse side of a typical new credit card offer, where the terms are shown not only in tiny type, but less than 100% black ink.)
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