For many, recognizing and understanding characters is an important prerequisite to social participation. Inclusive communication design helps people with visual impairments to accomplish this. REHACARE.com spoke with designer and expert of the German Association for Blind and Visually Impaired People, Florian Adler. He has developed a digital guide to inclusive communication design.
Mr. Adler, what is inclusive communication design?
Florian Adler: The leserlich.info portal addresses communication design for people with and without visual impairments. The individual abilities of people place different demands on the design of writing, text, and image, the nature of print media as well as the design and usability of digital media. Technical literature offers scattered recommendations on legible and readable design along with various standards, most notably DIN 1450 pertaining to the legibility of texts. Having said that, designers typically don’t respond well to norms and standards and fear they might actually stifle creative expression. That is why we gathered, evaluated and clearly illustrated the existing knowledge and processed it in a practical format.
Why is inclusive communication design so important?
Adler: Communication is a lifeline. To be able to visually assess a setting and to be able to recognize and read characters is the prerequisite to finding your way in the world and participate in cultural and social life. Communication design helps to make people, knowledge and the world accessible. This is also why open access to information and communication is a key stipulation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There are approximately one million people with visual impairments living in Germany, who even with visual aids and resources exhibit less than 30 percent of "normal" vision. In light of demographic changes, this number will continue to rise in the coming years. But even people with "normal vision" benefit from legible design in situations with poor visibility, poor lighting, stress or reading disability. Inclusive communication design creates information that’s legible and understandable for as many people as possible – regardless of their level of vision. This design is both accessible and attractive.
Who is the target audience of the leserlich.info website?
Adler: Our service is mainly directed towards designers and digital media designers of print and online media. The website explains technical information and background and lists sources with more detailed information; we summarize the recommendations in the "Yellow Pages" for readers in a hurry. In addition, two interactive tools – the Font Size Calculator and the Contrast Checking Tool – deliver specific dimensions and color values for the respective application.
What does inclusion mean to you?
Adler: Inclusion in design means to develop functional, intelligent and attractive solutions for as many users as possible and to avoid special-purpose solutions for individual groups whenever possible. Incidentally, these types of products usually also meet economic, ecological and social sustainability requirements.