When MANVIL was asked to consult with Startup Weekend to do the graphics for Startup Weekend Access, we knew that we were in for a great education. To get a graphic designer to consider designs that might function well for all folks including the blind kinda takes a designer out of his/her element.
We at MANVIL are used to a realm where the visual does the talking, and we love that, but working with a program that is all inclusive requires a little more effort. We really liked the work ViewPlus put together for the SWACCESS event flyer. Tangible graphics aren’t necessarily the norm. (look in any magazine, can you feel the image?)
The SWACCESS flyer graphic tells all the pertinent information upfront graphically, while the braille tells the story to those who can’t see it. Added embossing, an idea brought about by the abilities of the ViewPlus printer, let those who are sight impaired feel more of the image. Tangible graphics aren’t something too over the top, but using them forces other designers to consider future possibilities.
Since MANVIL took on the SWACCESS project as the consultants for marketing, we wanted to make promotional tees that included braille in their production as well. We were aided in this endeavor through the helpful staff at Portland based Incight.org, a resource for the disabled to reach self-empowerment.
With no set guidelines for tee design for the blind, we asked those who are visually impaired “what would be a functional placement for braille communications on a tee shirt?” We need to note that the braille communications cannot be placed on the front of a tee, for obvious reasons. (Think about it, nobody wants anybody “reading” their chest or tummy for messages, even if they are kind words) The left shoulder, one inch across from the arm seam and three inches down from the shoulder seam. That’s where the message should start.
Braille has a set font size, so the words “Pitch. Build. Enable. Launch!” takes up a whole 7.25 inches across when printing, and it needs to be printed in a density that can be felt, with an ink that lasts more than just a few washes. We’re working on the tests with our vendor OSI as this is being written, so once we get the product production ready, we’ll update the blog and let you know how it looks.
PS: As we write this, we’re considering heavily whether a tee shirt, which is really rather ill-suited for those with limited flexibility to get something “over their heads”, is the right way to go. Although more expensive, and somewhat less ‘a give-away item’, a zipped-front hoodie might be more suitable for those with physical impairments. We’ll try to push the hoodie as the apparel item of choice. (Mgt.)