Designing for the Visually Impaired

Affordable accessibility design.

Min Choi
Adjunct Professor
San Diego State University
San Diego City College

Low vision is a part of the natural aging process, and we all have the potential to face it at some point in our lives. Though there are many exceptional high-tech devices to help people with visually impaired and blind, there has not been enough attention given to applying accessible design when creating affordable everyday products to benefit them.  The statistic shows that in the U.S., only around 30%1 of people with a visual disabilities are fully employed, and cannot afford to buy assistive technologies that may be awesome for them, but costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

To address this issue, I am researching how people with low vision could experience high-contrast colors and basic shapes with tactility at a reasonable price. In-person, human-centered design approach guided me to build a deep empathy towards my audience and explore design process and solutions that would help celebrate their disabilities.

A home product line incorporates high-color contrasts and tactility using universal symbols for people with visual impairment. It is an experiment to help them to be independent and empower their everyday activities those of us with good vision often take for granted—including eating, getting ready for bed, and getting dressed in style.

At its heart, we must identity what the audiences’ needs are—and the only way to create design solutions is to connect with those who will benefit the most. Design with purpose and function is beneficial for everyone—especially those with disabilities.

Design Delight: A Framework For The Analysis And Generation Of Pleasurable Designs

Engendering experiential qualities: surprise, vitality, cuteness, serendipity, and reassurance.

Omar Sosa-Tzec
Assistant Professor
University of Michigan

This research introduces a framework named design delight, which is intended to analyze and give form to features of design products that provoke delight. In all human experiences, including designed experiences, delight plays a significant role. Particularly in modern societies, whose everyday life can be stressful, encountering moments of high pleasure can remind people that good things and individuals are part of such a life. It is no surprise that delight has been acknowledged as noteworthy element of experiences shaped by design. Design products that are delightful, no matter whether these are objects, graphics, or services, create emotional bonds, stronger memories, higher levels of loyalty, engagement, motivation for repurchase, and product promotion by word of mouth [1]–[6].

Design delight focuses on how design features are capable of engendering five particular experiential qualities: surprise, vitality, cuteness, serendipity, and reassurance. For design delight, these qualities characterize those instants of significant pleasure that a person encounters while she makes use a design product. Design delight is attentive to how design features help one or more of these qualities manifest or become salient in an interval of the user experience. This research argues that moments of pleasure derived from the combination of surprise, vitality, cuteness, serendipity, and reassurance constitute a rhetorical dimension of design products. A designer can make use of these five qualities to influence people’s behavior, attitudes, and beliefs. Design delight pays particular attention to how its constituents persuade, promote identification, invite to understanding, aid in self-discovery and self-knowledge, and shape reality.  

Design delight derives from the semiotic and rhetorical analysis [7]–[9] of numerous design products, including different kinds of user interfaces and interactive media, analog objects, and services. It also derives from secondary research on the notions of pleasure, delight, and aesthetics from the perspective of a variety of disciplines, including marketing, philosophy, and human-computer interaction. As a framework, design delight unifies foundations of semiotics, rhetoric, multimodal argumentation, and design for its theoretical underpinning. Design delight regards design features as multimodal signs which come into existence through a combination of six basic elements, namely, the visual, verbal, aural, olfactory, tactile, and temporal. Seen as signs, design features represent a means by which the designer communicates her intent; particularly, to invoke one or more of the five qualities happen. However, this semiotic perspective also considers that the context of use and how it affects the user’s process of generating meaning have an impact in how she grasps and reacts to such an intent.

Design delight is formulated as a conceptual framework to aid design practitioners and scholars in analyzing and elaborating on how design features engender significant moments instants of pleasure. Design delight is not a universal or quantifiable characterization of delight. Rather, design delight offers design practitioners and scholars a lens to view delight as something that shapes everyday life through design products. As making products that are surprising, lively, cute, serendipitous, and reassuring can contribute to living a good life, they can also lead to undesirable behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes. Professionals and scholars of design simply cannot be oblivious to the impact of delight in modern life and its connection with people’s psychological, physical, and emotional well-being. Whether design delight is used for generative or analytical purposes, this framework urges design practitioners and scholars keep in mind that creating pleasurable products entails an ethical responsibility.

References

[1]             M. W. Alexander, “Customer Delight: A Review,” Academy of Marketing Studies Journal; Arden, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 39–53, 2010.

[2]             M. J. Arnold, K. E. Reynolds, N. Ponder, and J. E. Lueg, “Customer delight in a retail context: investigating delightful and terrible shopping experiences,” Journal of Business Research, vol. 58, no. 8, pp. 1132–1145, Aug. 2005.

[3]             R. Chitturi, R. Raghunathan, and V. Mahajan, “Delight by Design: The Role of Hedonic versus Utilitarian Benefits,” Journal of Marketing, vol. 72, no. 3, pp. 48–63, 2008.

[4]             J. S.-C. Hsu, T.-C. Lin, T.-W. Fu, and Y.-W. Hung, “The effect of unexpected features on app users’ continuance intention,” Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, vol. 14, no. 6, pp. 418–430, Oct. 2015.

[5]             A. Kumar, R. W. Olshavsky, and M. F. King, “Exploring alternative antecedents of customer delight,” Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, vol. 14, pp. 14–26, 2001.

[6]             R. T. Rust and R. L. Oliver, “Should we delight the customer?,” J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci., vol. 28, no. 1, p. 86, 2000.

[7]             C. S. de Souza, C. F. Leitão, R. O. Prates, S. Amélia Bim, and E. J. da Silva, “Can inspection methods generate valid new knowledge in HCI? The case of semiotic inspection,” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, vol. 68, no. 1–2, pp. 22–40, Jan. 2010.

[8]             O. Sosa-Tzec and M. A. Siegel, “Rhetorical Evaluation of User Interfaces,” in Proceedings of the 8th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Fun, Fast, Foundational, New York, NY, USA, 2014, pp. 175–178.

[9]             J. Bardzell, “Interaction criticism: An introduction to the practice,” Interacting with Computers, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 604–621, 2011.

Obstruction by Graphical Construction: How Graphical Sculptures Can Counteract Symbols of Hate

At the intersection of art and law is the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) 1990, which forbids the destruction or manipulation of copyrightable works of art.

Brian McSherry
Adjunct Professor
Borough of Manhattan Community College

By using art, design, and law how can one legally affect politics and social equity in the United States, specifically when it comes to symbols of hate? This proposal looks towards a specific intersection of art, design, physical property, and legal loopholes to answer the aforementioned question as it relates to proposed border policies in the United States. At the intersection of art and law in the United States is the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990, which forbids the destruction or manipulation of copyrightable works of art.[1]

Recently, the destruction of 5pointz, a derelict graffiti haven in Long Island City, exemplified the power that VARA has as it relates to real estate production (Feuer, 2018).[2] Jerry Wolkoff, the owner and developer of 5pointz, was forced to pay 45 graffiti artists a total of $6.7million in restitution for the destruction of the artists’ work.

However, can VARA be used as an estoppel to the destruction of art, or is it merely a remedy for damages? According to the case of David Phillips, VARA allows for a temporary restraining order to protect works that are likely to be altered (Lipez, 2006).[3]

This proposal looks at these cases, the history of VARA, temporary restraining orders as a guide to create site-specific graphical work to stop border wall production. In order to halt the production of a border wall, one must purchase a parcel of land and create a site-specific graphical structure.

Here, one will not only have real estate protection, but also protection in the intellectual property of the work and the protection granted under VARA. Thus, an artist can use law as art and art as law to create a visual and physical safe haven in an area brimming with symbols of hate and exclusion.


[1] Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-650, 104 Stat. 5128 (codified in scattered sections of 17 U.S.C.).

[2] Feuer, Alan, “Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7 Million for Destroyed 5Pointz Murals”, New York Times, 2018.

[3] Phillips v. Pembroke Ral Estate, Inc., 459 F.3d 128 (1st Cir. 2006).

Using Icons to Encourage Visual Literacy on Campus

The role of design in instructional materials to engage a broad spectrum of student abilities.

Lance Hidy 
Accessible Media Specialist 
Northern Essex Community College

The academic administrators at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Massachusetts, are considering adopting Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a new methodology for improving student success and retention.

Having had disappointing results from other applied strategies, they are taking a fresh look at the role of design—especially for making instructional materials more accessible and engaging for a broad spectrum of student abilities. One important facet of UDL that the college is currently investigating is expanding the use of image content in text documents

To illustrate this idea, the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs asked me to develop a system of icons to represent every degree and certificate offered by the college, along with icons for the six academic divisions, and the nine athletic programs—87 in all. Many of the faculty who were invited to participate in the process of icon development for their disciplines said that it was an eye-opening experience, being the first time they had engaged in a visual thinking exercise.

As the collection of icons was finalized and distributed, employees were invited to use them to promote their disciplines. Additionally, a colorful poster of all 87 icons is circulating on campus and off, providing not only a useful recruiting tool, but also a new way for employees and students to understand what the college is

It is too early to assess how persuasive this icon project will be in shifting the college culture toward UDL and improved visual literacy. But it is providing a popular, concrete example of UDL that is already being used by everyone, and is being cited as campus committees begin debating the role of UDL in the next strategic plan.

Exploring Narrative Inquiry as a Design Research Method

Anne Berry
Assistant Professor
Cleveland State University

Whether working as industry professionals or engaged in academic research, designers are trained to embrace complex, unframed problems and prioritize the needs of end-users. Processes derived from design practice, such as design thinking and human-centered design (HCD), can subsequently be useful in providing frameworks and strategies to address broad, undefined challenges. There are limits to the depth and breadth of information that can be gathered about the complexities of human nature when filtered through these approaches, however. Designing products for people versus designing to affect change within complex political, social, and cultural systems—or what scholars Cinnamon Janzer and Lauren Weinstein refer to as “object-centered” and “situation-centered” practices—run counter to one another. Questions subsequently remain as to how designers should bridge gaps between the design problems identified and the research techniques employed when working towards solutions.

In contrast to “object-centered” approaches inherent in design thinking and HCD, narrative inquiry is a qualitative method particularly suited to human complexity. Everyday lived experiences, their impact, and the social and cultural contexts in which the experiences take place are examined through storytelling. With an emphasis on building knowledge, versus setting out to achieve specific outcomes, narrative inquiry has the potential to help designers develop deeper understanding of the people and systems they design for. This talk, consequently, will address how narrative inquiry can be utilized as a research method for design research.

How AI is Changing Design

Scott Theisen
Executive Creative Director
Deloitte Digital

Everyday a few more pieces of software and technology are being worked on, distributed and connected using some flavor of AI. What does this mean for how we design artifacts, software and services? What might this mean for us as professionals? How might this start to change our perception of ourselves? This talk will highlight some of the new, fascinating and scary ways AI is already affecting us.

Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, consumer AI technologies have had to deal with unforeseen implications of its creation and deployment, when put in the hands of their millions of users. Design bias and human needs have created issues that reveal the designers immaturity with the medium.

Software manufacturers deploying AI to generate content, mathematically analyze our requests and respond to our input. How is this influencing our ideas, our culture and the choices we make? With computer vision that can process incomprehensible data, rapid iteration that can outperform human limitations… AI is present in our daily lives and shaping the future in which we will live.

A Taste of Miami: Mentors, Creative Teams, Award Shows

John Delacruz
Associate Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications 
San Jose State University

A mentor is a friendly guide who helps a less experienced person by demonstrating positive behaviors. To be effective, a mentor’s role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the mentee’s needs and limitations. Mentoring is important because students learn from essential knowledge and skills from their mentors whilst also providing an understanding of workplace practices. This is certainly the case in the creative industries.

The creative industries rely on mentorship practices,  they require team-working skills and the ability to learn, support and help others in an increasingly inter-disciplinary environment.  Students at San Jose State University (SJSU) aiming to enter the creative industries have been working on a project with Miami Ad School in San Francisco. Miami Ad School, a portfolio school with campuses worldwide, intensively prepares students to enter the advertising industry as art directors and copywriters. In two years students develop approaches to problem-solving, they develop their craft and become confident communicators of ideas as they learn from experienced creatives at the top of their game. In fact, MAS is guided by an active teaching and learning model where the instructor can be seen as a mentor as much as a teacher.

SJSU students have been included in MAS creative teams on a course that focuses on award show student competition briefs. The aim is to better understand how mentoring can take place within a creative team where, through active learning, undergraduate students can develop new approaches to their own practice as a result of working alongside students immersed in different pedagogies. Will these undergraduates bring a new approach back to their SJSU classes and will their work improve as a result? Expectations and reflections gathered at both the start and end of the exercise will provide valuable insights.

Safe Niños: A Co-Creation Case Study

Susannah Ramshaw
Associate Director
Designmatters
ArtCenter College of Design

Over 7 million children a year suffer from severe burn injuries in Latin America. COANIQUEM, a non-profit pediatric treatment facility in Santiago, Chile that cares for young burn survivors free of charge, partnered with Designmatters at ArtCenter College of Design in the Spring of 2016 to develop innovative interactive environments for pediatric healing. In the Safe Niños transdisciplinary studio, students were challenged to co-create with stakeholders to reinvigorate the six-acre campus with human-centered and engaging environments aimed at optimal healing for patients and their families, and support the holistic medical approach of the center. Designmatters faculty guided students to use various design ethnography tools, from day-in-the-life patient journeys to brainstorming sessions with medical staff, enabling them to uncover insights and opportunities informed by stakeholders’ daily behaviors and activities across campus. Two follow-up field testing trips allowed a smaller group from the studio to test concepts and push co-creation and empathic methodology to arrive at novel, useful and integrated solutions that were ultimately implemented at COANIQUEM’s campus by Summer 2017, thanks to a nearly-$50,000 award supplied by Sappi North America’s Ideas that Matter grant. Patients at COANIQUEM now enjoy a system of environmental wall graphics and wayfinding, an interactive passport and storybook for the 10 rehabilitative therapies, and an area dedicated specifically for teenagers on campus.

Portraits of Obama: Media, Fidelity, and the 44th President

Scholarship: Creative Work Award Winner

Kareem Collie
Lecturer
Harvey Mudd
Stanford University

“In a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter…information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.” -Obama

President Obama made this statement in May 2010, during one of his most tumultuous years in office— healthcare reform, financial reform, the BP oil spill … the list continues. The notion of being bombarded by media is not a new one. This idea was discussed often during the last half of the 20th century, as television became ubiquitous in American life. The proliferation of media content, voices, and audiences (specifically in relationship to news content) continue to grow and reach into every aspect of our lives through 21st century media tools and channels. The discourse on media and its impact on society continue to call for scrutiny, and as Obama says, it continues to put “new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

Using Obama as a prism, I examine the culture of American mass media, examining the fidelity of news content amongst the ever-growing, ever-fragmenting, modern media landscape. I investigate the audience’s active engagement in the construction of their relationship to reality, the flawed nature of news makers and their perceptions of the world, and offer an alternative narrative approach to the construction of the self.

I approach this essay through the convention of narrative and visual communication. I discuss narrative as a mechanism of our individual cognition and cultural engagement, allowing for personal and collective understanding of the world around us. The tools of visual communication design are used to reframe the discussion of today’s 24/7 media environment, hoping to step outside of the “wolf’s gullet,” using the tools that help coat its lining.

My hope here is three-fold: (1) Using President Obama as an example, I wish to examine and illuminate the current role of media in our lives, (2) reframe the discourse of media and the active nature of the audience through the use of visual communication design, to pose new questions and answers and (3) present an alternative means of finding our sense of self within the deluge of media today.

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Kareem Collie is a lecturer at Harvey Mudd College and Stanford University. He is a design professional, with over fifteen years of experience designing, directing, and leading projects in branding, advertising, interactive, and creative strategy. His collaborative and leadership skills span across diverse areas of the industry, from the boardroom to the classroom.

Kareem is also a lifelong learner and educator, with a decade of experience teaching design and design thinking. His research interests are visual communications, design thinking, narrative, audience reception, and media theory.

As a deep thinker, visual storyteller, and maker, Kareem endeavors to inject more critical thinking and intentionality into the creative process, a notion that drives both his practice and pedagogy.

 

Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities

Scholarship: Published Research Award Winner

Jessica Barness
Associate Professor, Kent State University
Amy Papaelias
Assistant Professor, SUNY New Paltz

Our special issue of Visible Language journal, “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” (vol. 49, no. 3) locates where, how, and why critical making is emerging and the scholarly forms it takes. Visible Language journal is the oldest peer-reviewed design journal in the world and is currently published by the University of Cincinnati.

The idea for this special issue grew out of a mutual interest in the ways critical making in design connects with humanistic inquiry, and how this might form a foundation for research by design faculty. We viewed the project broadly as a finding tool because we observed a shortage of resources for design scholars on this topic. Critical making is an emerging framework that serves as a means to integrate research activity and practice-based artifact. It situates studio-based design practices as scholarship in ways that augment existing theories of design authorship, production, and thinking. The findings that occur within these activities become the crux of the endeavor and may produce as much knowledge as the polished, finished product.

As editors of the issue, our responsibilities included writing and circulating the international call for papers, facilitating double-blind peer review processes within two disciplines (design, and the digital humanities) and designing the issue layout, including the development of text analysis and data visualizations. Rather than advocate for each discipline to borrow and build off the other in isolation, this issue aimed to serve as a shared space to affect synergistic research, practice, and education. It became a research project in itself and is ongoing.

Two challenges were encountered in this project. First, Visible Language is a journal of evidence-based research and we focused on scholarship that is often considered exploratory. This meant determining, for all submissions, what constitutes rigorous ‘evidence-based research’ in theoretical and speculative inquiry, and in effect, publishing articles to serve as models for work of that nature. Second, the issue needed to connect research within disciplines that have significant overlap yet are just beginning to formalize their commonalities. The final issue needed to represent new knowledge, and be peer-reviewed, at a transdisciplinary intersection.

The final issue was published in print (approximately 700 copies distributed) and online. The online distribution coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of Visible Language and launch of its new open access web site; as a result, our full issue was readily accessible to all visitors to the new site. The issue contains nine articles by an international group of authors, and these were organized into two areas that blurred disciplinary boundaries: Theories and Speculations (methods and systems to facilitate research), and Forms and Objects (publishing, prototyping, and hacking practices). These published works have the potential to critically impact the ways we read, write, play, imagine, and learn across disciplinary boundaries, and exemplify non-traditional academic research methods for design and digital humanities scholars. This project served as a catalyst for the AIGA DEC conference Converge: Disciplinarities and Digital Scholarship we co-organized (spring 2017) and has been referenced in various other venues (see outcomes PDF).

Jessica Barness is an Associate Professor in the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University. Her research resides at the intersection of design, humanistic inquiry, and interactive technologies, investigated through a critical, practice-based approach. She has presented and exhibited her work internationally at venues hosted by organizations such as the Design History Society, HASTAC, and ICDHS, and she has published research in Design and Culture, AIGA Dialectic, Spirale, Visual Communication, SEGD Research Journal: Communication and Place, and Message, among others. Recently, her interactive work has been on display in the traveling exhibition Édition, Forme, Expérimentation, curated by Collectif Blanc. She co-edited (with Amy Papaelias) a special issue of Visible Language journal, “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” and is a member of the organizing committee for AIGA Converge conference, June 2017. She has an MFA in Design from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. jessicabarness.com

Amy Papaelias is an Assistant Professor in the Graphic Design program at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Presentations of her creative work and pedagogy at national and international venues include the Type Directors Club, Digital Humanities, Theorizing the Web, TypeCon, and the College Art Association. She has been involved with several digital humanities initiatives including One Week One Tool, and serves on the Advisory Boards of Beyond Citation (CUNY Graduate Center) and Greenhouse Studios (University of Connecticut). She co-edited (with Jessica Barness) a special issue of Visible Language journal, “Critical Making: Design and the Digital Humanities” and is a member of the organizing committee for AIGA Converge conference, June 2017. She co-authored a chapter (with Dr. Aaron Knochel) for Making Humanities Matters (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). She is a founding member of Alphabettes.org, a network for promoting the work of women in type, typography and the lettering arts. amypapaelias.com