Graphic design is an important factor in communication. Presenting text and pictures so they make sense to any reader is a skill. Thought needs to go into the ordering of words, the choice of typeface and font size, use of upper and lower case, italics and bold, all have a role to place in the design. Readability is the goal. What might seem clear to the designer may not be clear to the reader. The recent debacle at the Oscars is a case in point. The video below spells out how the poor design of the announcement cards contributed to the error – an error that should have been immediately obvious to the readers, but wasn’t. As you can see from the still shot, “Oscars” takes top place, and the key award, “best picture” gets tiny italic print on the bottom of the card. Add poor lighting and reduced eyesight and it is a recipe for disaster. A lesson for anyone who designs text in any context.
See video – Bad typography has ruined more than just the Oscars
In an article on the BBC’s website, Canadian Rich Donovan estimates the market “comprises about 1.3 billion people with disabilities worldwide, plus an additional 2.42 billion people once their friends and family are taken into account, which Donovan describes as “huge”. Rich goes on to say that companies are still looking at disability from the wrong angle – it is an emerging market, not a niche market. That is why it has gone unseen for so long.
Embracing inclusion brings into perspective the family members and friends who are attached to every person with disability and sheds the perspective of the individual – the historical figure of the “poor unfortunates”. Rich says, “Disabled people don’t want ‘special’ products, but they are hungry to be included in the mainstream consumer experience. The article discusses how companies such as Google have taken on the challenges of creating truly inclusive products, including a car a blind person can drive. The same thinking processes can be applied to any marginalised group in society.
Times are changing and a few marketing professionals are re-thinking their markets – thinking inclusion. But there is still a long way to go – attitudes are difficult to change. See related article from the Australian Human Rights Commission and their report, Missing Out: The business case for customer diversity.
Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and is keen to make them as “comfortable and accessible to everyone” regardless of age, nationality and ability. Japan’s Universal Design 2020 Action Plan was praised by the President of the International Paralympic Committee President, Sir Philip Craven, when he met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Prime Minister said, “we will take the Tokyo Paralympic Games as an opportunity to realize a society of coexistence, a society in which those with disabilities can pursue their dreams and more fully harness their potential and capabilities, in the same manner as those without disabilities. This will become one of the greatest legacies of the Tokyo Games.” The Prime Minister went on to say that he expected people with disability to be involved in the planning. He also said that it was time for the implementation of “barrier-free-mind” education for all children at school, and that there needs to be a revision of systems and legislation related to universal design and urban planning.
Japan staged the first international conference on universal design in 2002. The initiative was lead by the leaders of Japan’s major manufacturing companies – there is an interesting declaration by the conference committee about their hopes for the uptake of universal design. You can find out more from International Association of Universal Design website. There is a short article on their website about the hopes for the Games and its legacy.