Dialogue in the Dark

The visually impaired people struggle with their ability to see in an inaccessible world. The challenges that they face are often times the ignorance of able bodied people. Our guide Liana mentioned that there had been complaints about accessibility equipment and design features for the visually impaired by able bodied people, like the beeping of the traffic lights to help them cross the road.

Personally, I feel that it is hard to live with visual impairity as a lot of things in the world are visually charged. With the visual impairity, the handicap might be larger as they cannot read wall signage or directions.

I learnt that there are many subtle things that help the visually impaired, such as audio features in ATMs and braille and note sizes on dollar notes. However things like the dollar note braille can be useless when wearing and tearing occurs.

I also learnt that the visually impaired are able to experience things in another way. Like boat rides, to experiential holidays, they experience it through sound and touch, making use of other senses to experience their surroundings.

I think a big challenge would be that the world is made for the visual and people who can see are generally very visual creatures. It is hard to cater to an audience that cannot see but it doesn’t mean that is impossible. Like in visual design, embossing and debossing to create texture is more costly than flat surface printing. This cost escalates when we want to cater to the visually impaired.

I think role playing allows the designer to understand their audience better and is able to cater the design to a particular audience. Apart from that, it gives the designer new sensibilities to approach design in a more accessible manner. Even then, if the design is trying to approach accessibility, there is only so much a visual designer can do in terms of the add-ons to help remedy this.

Role playing definitely helps to allow designers to understand the problems and challenges faced by a certain group of people. However, it is tricky as it can only do so much to instil a sense of understanding. Also, it takes a lot of empathy and thought to constantly re-evaluate the designed solution if it is applicable to the audience. Often times a lot of solutions end up marginalising other communities or contributes to factors of another problem. At times, we try to have everything, but can’t seem to get anything at all.