Jacob Kielan, 34 years old Visual Communication

+ Change graduate (Design and Sustainability)

Inclusion and agency to all categories of society is a fundamental requirement for social sustainability in any given community.
Right now, there are many gaps in our social system in this regard.
One thing I’ve been noticing and contemplating on, is how little inclusion the visually impaired have in our society.

Their visual world has very limited access to so many information and they don’t get enough input on from their surrounding in comparison with all the visual information a healthy person would receive in any given context.
Of course for visually healthy people, it can be too much input of information and influences that we receive and we could use a little less information noise, like all the marketing and propagandas trying to catch our attention. But perhaps if we bring the focus on infographics and how the visually impaired are included in them, then we have a solid starting point to how we can improve the design of different areas so they’re more inclusive than merely traffic lights or elevator buttons.

Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilising graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends.
And so infographics vary in form and purpose, things like maps, statistics, instructions, educational layouts and so on.

I believe we should take the visually impaired into consideration at every infographic design decision and explore alternative versions for each.
The goal would be to map out possible requirements for accessibility for visually impared and areas where tactile information should or could be available within the context of future community building.

The loop of such a design process would show how collaborative efforts and the use of local knowledge resource, DIY manufacturing (such as 3D printing & CNC) and production methods gives agency to a community with more diversity and inclusiveness.
By incorporating the unique perspectives of people with functional variation as a fundamental part of community development – inclusivity becomes not just an afterthought to an already established sphere of communication, rather it becomes fundamental part of community building.

Visual and material research

One of the starting points will be looking into existing books with Braille print and tactile illustrations available at libraries.

What I find interesting about these books has a lot to do with the illustrations. They are made from extruded forms, textures and materials that mostly represent two dimensional objects. There is nothing truly two dimensional in the tactile space, which might render these illustrations very abstract for someone who has no visual reference. They look like they are made by someone with sight, which can make sense when considering that most people with visual impairment are not fully blind. In that sense 2D representations, high contrasts and colours may be of interest.

“The initial concept behind transforming the illustrations from 2D to 3D is to create resources to improve the experience of literature for the blind and partially sighted through rendering illustrations and graphics from well-known fiction into tactile objects and reliefs.” – 3D Printable The Little Prince by Evavooo

The method of 3D-printing seems to find its place as an expression in tactile mediums

How 3D-Printed Maps Are Helping the Blind and Visually Impaired

Jacob. Visually Impaired Infographics.

Printed maps are one form of infographics that have the potential of representing large amounts of data on tactile medium.

Tactile art. Moving away from literacy into the emotional domain there are several projects making art for tactile mediums.