Design Considerations for Low Literacy Audiences: A Case Study

Kathryn Weinstein
Associate Professor of Graphic Design
Queens College, CUNY

This presentation describes a case study of the re-design of the Inwood House Resident’s Handbook. Inwood House is a short-term residence for pregnant young women in foster care. Considerations for the design of the handbook included the age, gender and the average literacy level (3rd grade) of the residents; and the communication objectives and legal obligations of the institution.

Research from the Institute of Medicine, National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has demonstrated that design decisions can impede or assist comprehension for readers with minimal literacy skills. This case study presents best practices for designers culled from existing research —including recommendations for layout, use of color and graphics, and analysis of text — to be used to maximize the effectiveness of materials designed for low-literacy audiences. The case study presents spreads from the Inwood House Resident’s Handbook to illustrate the prescribed best practices for designers and two assessment tools from the Harvard School of Health were utilized to predict the effectiveness of the design for the residents of Inwood House.

PRESENTATION: DesignConsiderations_K_Weinstein6_2014

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.0: Inaugural Event at AIGA on Thursday, June 5, 2014.