Briefly share your experience going through Dialogue in the Dark. What were some of the feelings, challenges, and insights gained while role playing a blind person?
Dialogue in the Dark is an experience that is really eye-opening to me as I really love participating in role-playing activities to further understand a situation better. Going into the exhibition, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see anything and be in complete darkness. I felt calm because I wasn’t alone going through this experience so I wasn’t as worried as if I were to go in alone.
Some of the challenges faced inside the exhibition would be my ability to decipher alphabets through touch. I realized how extremely reliant I am on my sense of sight. It took me quite a long time to figure out the words at the Raffles monument and I was only able to figure out the name of the monument after someone else figured the other part of the name. The cursive sign was worse as I originally am not really able to figure cursive in real life that well so when my sense of sight is unavailable, my sense of touch simply were lost.
The insights that I’ve gained whole role-playing as a blind person would be that everyone of them faced a really confusing and exhausting phase in the beginning of their blindness as they try to adapt to their new condition. Things that we have in our everyday lives are taken rather for granted when we are able to see such as doing really basic daily routines such as walking in the park, crossing a bridge, crossing a pedestrian crossing, press the doorbell of our house or simply walking on the pavement without bumping onto any obstruction. These are the simple things that blind people would have to face and adapt to thus making them walk a little slower than we do as they have to pay way more attention to their surroundings.
Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design research technique of role playing?
Role-playing is a great design technique as it really creates an immersive experience for the participants. Through Dialogue in the Dark, we were able to fully immerse ourselves in the environment and point of view of a blind person. This technique is also very effective in relaying the message and cause which was to raise awareness of the visually impaired in Singapore.
Can you think of some contexts where role-playing can be useful to help discover and definition of design challenges or contribute to the development of design solutions?
Role-playing is a form of creative problem solving for the participants as they are placed in a “problem” situation which requires them to solve within their own groups. Just like in Dialogue in the Dark, we were highly dependant on each other and the guide to help up through the experience. Role-playing is also allows participants to actually work in a physical space or experience and through that, they are also able to see issues that might not have shown up on mere 2D or 3D designs.
There are certainly many issues that concern the world today and especially in Singapore but social and health issues are definitely the most prevalent ones. Amongst all the social and health issues, these four issues particularly stood out and spoke to me.
What are some of the current issues confronting our world today? Amongst them, what is of interest and a cause of concern to you?
The first issue that I find rather unnerving would be the oblivion that young people in Singapore have over sexual health. According to a Straits Times article published in June 18, 2017, the number of young people in Singapore contracting sexual infections are alarmingly increasing. A survey done by AWARE Singapore also shows that 60% of young people simply choose to forgo any form of protection despite being educated about sexual health in school and they despite having sexual relations with multiple partners as early as 16 years old.
Staying in the realm of sexual health, the issue of abortion laws globally but in particular the recently made abortion bill in the United States made me quite appalled. As of June 2019, nearly thirty states have introduced some form of an abortion ban and with reference to a BBC article, fifteen states have specifically posed a “heartbeat bill” which ban abortion completely on pregnancies that are six weeks or over. With reference to a CNN article, the state of Alabama is the only state currently imposing a total ban on abortions at any stage of the pregnancy which has caused an uproar among pro-choice supporters.
Coming back to Singapore, I truly sympathise the elderlies as they are either forced to postpone retirement or they are forced out of their retirement in order to support themselves. This is evident as seen in an article by ASEAN Today, the employment rate for those aged 65 and older jumped from 13.8% in 2006 to 26.8% in 2018. Adding further pressure on the elderlies, during the recent National Day Rally, the government would also be subsequently increasing the retirement age to 63 in 2022 before being raised further to 65 by 2030.
The last issue that sparked my interest would be the increasing wedding cost for couples. According to an article by The New Paper, a couple’s wedding debt can reach up to $110,000 in which took them four years to pay off. Accumulated debts through lavish weddings are also caused by the term “saving face” in the Asian culture as couples would have to show off their social status. With reference to a ValueChampion post, other factors contributing to the skyrocket cost in weddings would be the wedding bands, dowry, solemnisation ceremony, wedding banquet, honeymoon and wedding photography to name a few.
However among all four issues, the one that really spoke to me was the abortion ban issue. As a choice supporter myself, I really empathise mothers other pro-choice supporters that are upset and enraged with the ban that was imposed recently. With reference to Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care in the United States and globally, pro-choice is a term used to describe people who believe that women have the rights to decide when and whether to have children, based on their own moral and religious beliefs, even though they themselves may not choose abortion as an option for an unplanned pregnancy.
With accordance to an article by The Atlantic, this abortion bill greatly affects pregnant women who are opting for safe abortion procedures as it would jeopardise their health if they carried a baby to term. Women who are denied safe abortion might even resort to a “DIY abortion” using the insertion of the wire from a coat hanger – or a knitting needle, or another thin rod or stick – into the cervix to induce a miscarriage. This could cause uterine perforation, infections, infertility and the deaths of women. In addition, it would also be immoral to impel a woman to carry a pregnancy she does not want, especially if that pregnancy is a result of rape or incest and studies also shows that abortion is medically safer than childbirth.
This issue has to be communicated to pro-choice supporters in order to rally them to come forth and continue to stand up to the bill. This group of people are likely to be females aged between 18 to 35 years old that are also liberal Americans or females from any country that are pro-choice, really. Pro-choice supporters are in need of having their cause heard by the society as well as the government and the expected effect would be to have them spread the cause further through the potential support that is given to them and hopefully retract the abortion bill though it might look like a far stretch.
How has visual communication contributed to address the cause?
#1: 50 Years of Choice – Protein Studios London, Print Publication, 2018, Link
Although this particular example did not originate from the United States, it shares the same intention which was to celebrate and empower women although in this example it coincides with the vote to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland. I love this artwork as it is a collaborative piece of work 50 typographic posters that involve not only female designers from the UK but it also involved many other female designers that are also fighting the same cause globally. Colours are also used minimally and limited to red, black, white and greys which really bring forth the intended messages the designers were trying to feature. There is also a “rebellious” vibe going on with the style of the different posters which clearly shows the stance against the amendment made by the government.
#2: Trapped – Women’s Health Specialists California, Free Browser Game, 2018, Link
Trapped is a browser game that is supported by colourful vector illustrations to illustrate the various situations a women contemplating abortion is being put through. With reference to The Guardian’s article, the game simplifies and make players understand the practical realities of how difficult it can be to get an abortion, particularly when economic, political and cultural factors get in the way. The game portrays a very approachable yet informative and educational edge which allows players to be able to comprehend the different procedures leading up to an abortion in which may be too dry and intimidating when being told by a medical professional face to face.
During the Cruise 2020 Fashion Show Gucci had in Rome, they certainly made a bold statement which showed their stance regarding the latest debate over abortion rights being waged in the United States with a number of garments that featured phrases associated with the pro-choice movement. The visual used reflected the female reproductive system and the font used to portray the statements on the garment were highly visible and made an impact to very influential people in attendance. I personally feel that these garments are highly engaging as there would certainly be buyers that are interested in buying the custom-made pieces which would mean that the statements and visuals on the garments would be exposed to a larger set of audience.
#4: #StopTheBans Rallies – August Mulvihill, Protest Signage, 2019, Link
In late May this year, many pro-choice supporters came out to the nation-wide rallies with different signages to protest the abortion bill made by Republican policymakers. This signage in particular stood out to me as compared to many others as it really sends quite a straightforward yet still impactful message. The signage was done using a white and red paints which were minimal yet still serves the message. The use of the phrase “NEVER AGAIN” against a coat hanger as a supporting visual truly communicates how coat hangers were a popular form of unsafe “DIY abortions” and that the artist would never want women to ever go through such measures again.
Through these four different examples, I hope to take inspiration from them and in turn create a cohesive design solution that is not only relevant but is also effective in serving the cause.