Designing for the Blind

The app I want to focus on is the VoiceOver app made into all apple products. This free, included software is revolutionary to accessible design in the digital space and the fact that the system is free makes this available for everyone. VoiceOver is a built-in screen reader that describes what the cursor or finger is on. A new feature I personally learned about from a blind Tik Tok creator is the braille feature. This feature helps blind people type more efficiently. I am currently writing my paper on accessible design, specifically focusing on designing for blind people. I found that one of the biggest hurdles to jump over is to normalize blindness. The positive response to this app on social media has been great exposure for the blind community. Another point that I found from my research in the blind community, is that there is a great deal of normalcy in being blind so seeing the ease that blind people can communicate with others via their devices is fantastic.

Another feature I found very refreshing from apple was their audio descriptions to hear narrations of video clip or movie. This makes navigating in the digital space for people with vision loss much easier. 

Apple also has other apps and modes that help with accessibility. One simple, but big help. Id text size manipulation. The user can increase the text and or bolden the text on the screen. This is a great advancement in gearing tech for aging generations. There is a false stigma that blindness and vision loss only apply to a small proportion of the population, but in reality, everyone will go through vision loss in their life. Design and tech can be sometimes be ageist in only designing for a younger audience, but this is a great example for designing for all. 

All devices also has dark mode on all of their devices that changes everything on screen to a darker color scheme that is meant to be easier on the eyes. The dark mode has a dark background and light text making reading in low light far easier.  


Annotated Bib

  1. ‘In My Shoes’ Interaction Sandbox for a Quest of Accessible Design: Teaching Sighted Students Accessible Design for Blind People by Cosima Rughiniș
  2. Dr. Cosima Rughiniș is a professor at the University of Bucharest, where she teaches courses in sociological research methodology. She has been published 63 times, has 204 citations, and 20,734 reads according to as linked in her website.  
  3. This paper explains how sighted students can design for blind or visually impaired users as well as how teachers can educate their students to design with empathy to have accessible design. The researchers introduce the “In My Shoes’ Interaction Sandbox” which is an interactable online resource to act as a guide for sighted students to design for the blind by “imagining and making sense of interactions with blind people” (Rughiniș, 65). The paper continues by explaining the “Web of Arguments” or reasons why this information is relevant for everyone. The paper explains the ethical and social responsibility of design, as well as the fact that blind and visually impaired persons make up a large population of users as users age and their vision diminishes. The paper then continues to explain in more detail the “In My Shoes’ Interaction Sandbox” while also introducing an Interactional Malaise for the student to understand and empathize with a blind person’s anxiety, frustration, and confusion while navigating a world that was designed for them. The Interaction Sandbox is a tool for these students to understand the “mechanics of discomfort” and how they can conceptualize their way out. The authors also propose accessible design as a quest. This idea of design as a quest leads students to see themselves as heroes and to value fact that they have the ability to inspire and help the lives of others, in this case, blind persons. With this idea of a quest, others worry that this is going to romanticize blindness. The researchers argue against this for “productive misunderstanding, to the extent that it upholds a stronger commitment to accessible design” 
  4. Cosima Rughiniș. “‘In My Shoes’ Interaction Sandbox for a Quest of Accessible Design: Teaching Sighted Students Accessible Design for Blind People” Universal Access in Human-Computer Interaction. Design and Development Methods for Universal Access, vol. 5, 2014, Accessed 15 Feb 2021.
  1. Universal design, inclusive design, accessible design, design for all: different concepts—one goal? On the concept of accessibility—historical, methodological and philosophical aspects by Hans Perrson 
  2. Hans Persson is a professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden who has been publishing since 2009 until 2015. Her has an average of 483 downloads per article. His other articles on design, accessibility, and universal access have also been peer reviewed by other professors and researchers.
  3. This paper discusses the need and benefits of universal design including individual, business, societal, and economic benefits. The paper discusses the lack of consensus regarding accessibility in different areas, including within the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and how this has hindered the quality of accessible design. The paper also cites the European Institute for Design and Disability (EIDD) in the Stockholm Declaration as it explains that the term “Design for all, is design for human diversity, social inclusion, and equality.” The article closes with the problem with the lack of consensus on the idea of accessibility. The authors show the consequences of not definition, to many definitions, to a single definition. With no definition of accessibility, the problem is that there is now legal boundaries for when something is or is not accessible that could lead to discrimination. Many definitions could lead to misunderstandings, legal confusion, and the consumer will still not know if the product will meet their needs. A single definition of accessibility would make it easy for consumers to know if their needs will be met, however will run into challenges of being too broad. The authors propose that the definition of accessibility should focus on flexibility and  adaptability to meet the “ever changing gaps” of a person’s ability. 
  4. Persson, Hans, et al. “Universal Design, Inclusive Design, Accessible Design, Design for all: Different Concepts–One Goal? on the Concept of Accessibility–Historical, Methodological and Philosophical Aspects.” Universal Access in the Information Society, vol. 14, no. 4, 2015, pp. 505-526. ProQuest,,doi: Accessed 15 Feb. 2021
  1. Design for Social Accessibility Method Cards: Engaging Users and Reflecting on Social Scenarios for Accessible Design by Kristen Shinohara 
  2. Kristen Shinohara is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the Rochester Institute of Technology where she also developed Design for Social Accessibility (DSA) perspective where designers engage in a design process that meets the needs of disabled viewers. This article was peer reviewed and was supported in part by the National Science Foundation. 
  3. In this paper, the authors open with discussing what is inclusive design and what is user-centered design. User-centered design has the designers partake in “user-centered”  activities to understand the needs, desires, and experience of the user. Inclusive design is design that can be used by a wide, diverse audience. The article continues with touching on agility-based design which focuses on what disabled people can do rather than cannot. The researchers had 2 intro courses in part of their research along with a workshop and a Master’s class as the final class. The first class  taught how to design for disabled and nondisabled stakeholders and the social institutions that have formed this way of thinking. The second class built upon what was taught in the previous class and also brought in experts in the field. The researchers developed Method Cards that bring up the experiences of disabled persons and enforces the participants to reflect on social considerations in a human-centric style. The cards will prompt the students with different scenarios, such as an awkward moment with someone who uses technology for their disability, and gives them questions to spark their brainstorming to combat these issues. The students then move onto prototyping and testing. The students were interviewed at the end of the course and workshops on their opinions and usefulness of the cards. Most students says that the DSA cards were a very helpful tool in retraining how they design in an inclusive way. 
  4. Kristen Shinohara et al. “Design for Social Accessibility Method Cards: Engaging Users and Reflecting on Social Scenarios for Accessible Design,” ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing, no. 17,
  5. doi/epdf/10.1145/3369903 Accessed 15 Feb 2021.  
  1. Quality in Web Design for Visually Impaired Users by Margaret Ross 
  2. Margaret Roth is a highly respected professor at Southampton Solent University under the School of Media Arts and Technology. She has 93 publications discussing topics like ethical design and software. She serves on the BCSWomen Committee of the British Computer Society. She has a lot of awards to her name including MBE awarded at Buckingham Palace for Services to higher education
  3. The article starts out by explaining that web design is not always accessible to people with visual impairments or blindness. Margaret Ross mentions that with an aging population, designers and software designers should be focusing on inclusive design to meet the needs of the people. One of the problems that Ross brings up is colors that are indistinguishable to colorblind persons. The article says to avoid red/green and blue/yellow color combinations for many people have a hard time differentiating those colors. The paper continues by explaining the Bobby test. The bobby test is a free website that will scan your website and give it a score on whether it is accessible for handicapped viewers. The study showed their results with surveying 17 websites including Safeway, Tesco, HSBC, and Abbey National. They ranked these sites among the categories legibility, Alternative text (for pictures), Alternative frames, sensible links, and if it passes the bobby test. The researchers scored the sites using the rubric with either a P for pass or F for fail. 60% of the sites passed in legibility, bad sadly those numbers get lower and lower across the board with all but one website failing the bobby test. 
  4. Ross, M. Quality in Web Design for Visually Impaired Users. Software Quality Journal 10, 285–298 (2002). Accessed 16 Feb 2021

Sustainable Design

I think designers have the responsibility of the sustainability of design because what we make informs the user on what is inside and we have the chance to influence what the consumer does with the package it came in. Our job as designers is to communicate with the viewers so we are responsible to communicate what to do with the package once you are done. 

I think the best example from my personal experience is Hello Fresh. The box that they ship their products in has a clear and fun design with its lime green appearance excites the customer for their meals inside. The box contains information on what is recyclable and how to recycle it. For example, the ice bag that sits on the bottom of the box keeping the ingredients cold tells the customer to thaw, empty the contents into the trash, and recycle the bag that it came in. The box has graphics on them so the boxes had to been shipped in another protective box to protect the design so the fact that they advertise and project how much of the packaging is recyclable makes up a bit for the extra trash and landfill that the company creates. 

I have found that humans are inherently lazy. Most people will take the path of least resistance through life. There is an icon for things that are recyclable that is pretty much universal. Almost anyone in the this country can look at the triangle of arrows pointed at each other and know that it is in fact recyclable, but not everyone is actively looking for them. A designer practicing sustainability responsibility will make these marks highlighted to tell the user to recycle the product once you are done with it. 

Another problem I found with the issue of landfill and lack of recycling is the absence of knowledge of how to recycle objects. Some people still throw pizza boxes in the recycling bin and has to be thrown away along with the rest of your recyclables. I think graphic designers or just designers in general can build a more intuitive system to get more people to recycle. This can be done with more clear signage or city planning that has accessible recycling centers. 

Graphic designers usually do not see the environmental impact that our work actually has. There have to be cloud server computer farms, printing facilities, packaging companies, and what the user will do with the final project. Knowing this, designers should find a way to encourage the companies they are working for to produce their designs in sustainable ways, as well as making their packages or designs with directions on recycling.


Politics and Design

The intersection between designers and politics is super fascinating. Personally, I find the subject very touchy among designers because no one wants to design and create work with someone who you have drastic opinions from (I let you guess which person I am thinking of). The stereotypical graphic designer is a white, male, millennial, brew’s his own kombucha, and is most likely a liberal. Even people outside the art world also have this perception, including politicians. Graphic design is tied to the left, so the far right doesn’t want anything to do with it. We can see this the most with Donald Trump’s MAGA hat. That hat could have been made in Microsoft Word, and that was done on purpose. That hat has no design to them but is wildly successful, and expresses that he does not need designers or outside help to promote his ideas. Graphic designers and graphic design firms boast that they are a diverse group of people but we lack a lot of diversity in political views. 

The intersection of design and politics to me seems pandering and cliche at this point. I think the most prominent example is Joe Biden’s logo. I think the designers wanted his logo to look “cool” and “trendy” but it comes off as tacky. The red E does not make any sense to me. On the other hand, I really like Bernie Sander’s logo for both his 2016 and 2020 campaign. The abandonment of a sans-serif typeface for a slab-serif is really refreshing to me. I think that the slab-serif typeface is an homage to the fact that Bernie has been in politics and has had his progressive ideas for long time. I also found interesting was that Bernie chose to go by his first name. It shows a bit of humanity and very down to Earth. What would normally feel like a conservative style, a la Ted Cruz, I associate the logo as very liberal. This logo does not feel pandering to me. 

One political message that I thought was very interesting was Rand’s logo. This logo features heavyweight, sans-serif, an italic typeface with a liberty torch in the negative space between the A and N. The italicized type leaning to the literal right echoes Rand’s political views and moving in the “right” direction. I really do not know much about Rand’s political views at all, but I respect the design of his logo. 


Warmer, Warmer, Hot!

Observers of the different types of media would agree that the internet is a very cold, almost freezing, media. The internet requires a lot of attention and interaction by the user to reach the information of the media. One can not simply turn on the internet and access the information. This may have been the case 10, 15, 20 years ago, but now, access to the internet has gotten warmer and warmer. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tik Tok both have an infinite scroll feature where the user can scroll forever, spending hours on their platform without even noticing it. Joshua Porter, author of “Designing for the Social Web,” explains that “Scrolling is a continuation, clicking is a decision” ( YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and many other streaming services have autoplay where the content is never-ending. What makes the internet cold, the constant clicking, searching, and interacting, is slowly disappearing as our social media consumption is getting easier. What I am interested in studying is how the warming of the internet has affected the human mind and our mental health. Social media addiction and obsession have plagued users from all over the world. The limitless content that is available to us 24/7 has been an asset to creators, but a danger to users. As designers, we have the control to create works that are beneficial to society, instead of creating work that will get us a monetary gain, but at the price of the user’s health. After Instagram noted the anxiety that their apps cause, they have changed their format slightly to change the infinite scroll. Instead of seeing the same posts that you have already seen, a pop-up message appears saying to “see older posts” or continue to suggest posts based on other posts you have liked before. This was a way of deterring the infinite scrolls, but Instagram can still scroll forever, you are just looking at different content. Tik Tok also has added messages to their “For You Page” that is meant to interrupt the infinite scroll. My critique of this is that the user can simply scroll away past their message. Out of the two techniques to break up the infinite scroll, I believe Tik Tok handled it the best to get the attention of the viewer, but Instagram has the “colder” approach. So with the rising warmness of our social media, the answer is not simply making the medium “colder” but we have to have a better understanding of how we use social media. 


Who am I?

Hello all!

My name is Allison, I am a junior at Oregon State University studying Graphic Design and Photography. I have been in the photography world since my junior year of high school but I took photography seriously starting my Senior year at high school. During my senior year, I also started to delve into graphic design and I pursued graphic design the following year at Oregon State as a Pre-Graphic Design major. After my freshman year at college, I was accepted into the Graphic Design program and I added a second major, Photography. I am now in my second year in the program and my third year at Oregon State. I have a strong interest in brand identity, layout design, and typography. My end goal in my career is to become a creative director, or art director so I can blend my two majors and skills in order to create unique, lively, and beautiful pieces of work.