When you are creating visual designs for events, exhibition installations, documentaries or any digital communication platforms, you must keep principles of inclusion at the core.
By doing so, you can ensure that people who live with difficulties can engage and connect on a deeper level, regardless of their unique abilities, limitations or circumstances.
Inclusive design is also about connecting humans through design, understanding individuality and giving choices to their actions. It focuses on a communication process at the emotional level. Both principles must unite to create a welcoming environment for all.
To do so, you must work to understand your audience then test and analyse your concept and direction depending on who you are communicating with.
There’s a range of digital tools that can help you move in the right direction towards inclusion, making sure your designer and team are working effectively. Keep reading to find out what these are.
Digital tools for outstanding inclusive designs
1. WebAIM Contrast Checker
WebAIM Contrast Checker is a free online tool you can use to check the contrast ratio, either image vs image or text vs background.
Based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that offer a single shared standard for the web, you’ll get instant feedback on your contrast and colour combinations (including both foreground and background colours). You’ll understand whether you are in the ‘safe zone’ of inclusion so you can make any changes required.
Desktop Application (Mac)
Contrast is a free desktop application that provides instant feedback on whether your design is in a safe zone without you needing to leave any apps you’re working with or going online. You can use it for any application including QuickTime or image preview and there’s an easy-to-read guide to the WCAG Accessibility Standards. Check it out here.
3: Who Can Use
Who Can Use is a useful tool that demonstrates how colour contrasts affect people with a range of visual impairments including cataracts, glaucoma and colour blindness.
Designed to humanise those with visual impairments, the tool features a background and text colour slider that explains the contract ratio and displays visually how people with different vision types may see each colour combination.
4: Color Oracle
Desktop Application (Win/Mac)
Color Oracle is a helpful plugin that simulates colour blindness in real-time on the full screen, no matter what application you are working on, including videos and images and provides immediate feedback on the accessibility of your content.
Colour blindness is a common vision problem that affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. Also known as ‘colour vision deficiency’ it can affect how a range of colours are perceived.
Thanks to the handy Color Oracle plugin, you can understand exactly how your designs will be seen by those with the condition.
5: Color Brewer
Color Brewer is a tool that has been designed for map creation and data or information visualisation with inclusion in mind.
When you’re displaying information in one place such as maps, your choice of colour becomes even more challenging, especially if there is other visual information on the screen. Color Brewer is an excellent tool to help you here.
Credit: Dr. Cynthia A. Brewer, Professor of Geography, Penn State
Chrome Browser Extension
Stark is a tool that allows you to check the functionality and communication effectiveness of online or visual storytelling designs. By using the contrast checker tool, you can check essential designs and elements including typography and colour combinations and get feedback on legibility and accessibility based on WCAG guidelines.
It also includes a colour impairment simulation that helps you pinpoint accessibility errors in the early production stage. Plugins are also available to Adobe XD, Figma, Sketch.
Stock Image Marketplace
Pexels is a stock image marketplace that has updated its algorithm to enable more organically diverse search results without pledging “We care about diversity!” upfront.
“Our internal search algorithm is programmed to learn from our users, constantly fine-tuning results to provide the “best” possible photos and videos for every search term.” – Pexels website.
Although many other stock image websites try to do the same, the results are often awkward and are ironically biased, featuring just one type of minority. Their failure to address diversity and inclusion effectively leads us to have to jump from site to site to find an image that reflects our ethos.
If you want to create an inclusive environment for your visual communications, you must ensure that you provide consistency and clarity at all stages of your design whilst ensuring that no one is unwittingly excluded from the experience.
Although there aren’t any “one-fits-for-all” solutions, we can utilise the digital tools above to ensure that the fundamentals of inclusive design are kept in mind at all times. However, we need to remember that our goal is to make closer human connections and use our insight to encourage a more consistent inclusive experience for all.
Want to create a memorable experience for your documentary, exhibition or event whilst keeping inclusion in mind?