Not everyone experiences colour in the same way, yet the use of colour in illustrations is rarely questioned in terms of universal design. If people with Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) are not included when illustrations, charts and images are designed, what colours should a designer use to include the 8% of the population with CVD? There are three types of CVD as shown in the image: green blindness, blue blindness and red blindness. People with CVD also have other difficulties in discerning some types of text, shapes and lines.
Preparing Images for All to See explains in detail how people with different versions of CVD experience colour. The article also gives some great guidelines for illustrators, map makers and others who communicate using coloured images. Included is a summary of the most frequently cited best practices for publication, presentation and instruction. Here is a synopsis of their recommendations.
- Select graphic styles for accessibility and use bar charts instead of pie charts
- Distinguish items by more than color. Use circles and squares and solid and dashed lines.
- Red and Green usually have the same hue (density of colour) and can’t be distinguished. Dark red–dark green, blue–violet, red–orange, and yellow–green are also not good. Magenta and turquoise are good choices because people with RedGreen-CVD can see the blue component.
- Make fonts and lines thick bright and with contrast.
- Avoid rainbow color maps as this is the worst possible choice.
You can also find out more about CVD or colour blindness from going to the National Eye Institute website
The Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (RICA) has a set of online resources about easy to use appliances. While this information is great for consumers, it also highlights the factors industrial designers should consider when designing kitchen appliances. Using information from Which magazine in the UK and Choice magazine in Australia they provide a good overview on appliances such as kettles, washing machines and microwaves.
The IDeA Center at Buffalo has also has an online section on Accessible Appliances and Universal Design. It covers a little history of product development and the issues involved, and regulations. Using the seven classic principles of universal design, it has details on reach range, dexterity, and size and space for approach. Some of the information is a little dated as technology and design ideas move on, but it gives another perspective on how to design products that almost everyone can use.
The links below take you directly to some of the appliances reviewed by Which and Choice:
To see more, go to the RICA website
The access symbol, often called the “disabled” or “wheelchair” symbol is one of the most recognised in the world. However, this icon is often interpreted as indicating use by wheelchair users only. Given that only some 15% of all people with disability use wheelchairs, this sign can be misleading and confusing. The TED Ed video below explains the history of the design, some of the issues in use, and puts out a call for action for updating the symbol.
Editor’s Note: Confusion exists on whether non-wheelchair users can use a “disabled” facility, such as a toilet. Some think that accessible toilets must be reserved for wheelchair users. But someone who is ambulant may need assistance with toiletting. A regular cubicle cannot accommodate two people and besides, may they not be of the same gender. Parents with strollers and small children, and people with continence issues, also need to use these facilities. Accessible car parking is another matter and that is why a permit is required. A factor that annoys some people is the accessible toilet being used for “other” purposes. These “other” purposes can also be done in a regular toilet. My view is that I only care that they don’t take too long, and leave the place clean. It matters not what they are doing. What matters is that everyone benefits from more useable and convenient facilities – I think it would be a rare case for a person to think a ramp is only for wheelchair users.