The project has finally been handed in, it was a lot of hard work and effort to gain the stunning result I had in mind when I first started the project. I cannot believe it is now finished, it does not seem that long ago that I started it.
Due to the nature of the project and target audience, the project and outcomes were defined as non-visual but still has a beauty that sighted people can admire. Despite this fact, a high level of design was still required to complete the project, although it was necessary to design using alternate methods and practices than more mainstream design. In order to create an informed and suitable design, I needed to adopt co-design and co-creation, researching in depth the practicalities of what I was trying to produce. Learning to adapt design skill and knowledge was a key factor within this project, enabling me to focus on different parameters of the project to develop concepts and design in different ways, but at the same time still exercising the design process. The project’s target audience was implied within the set brief and therefore in order to ensure I understood the target audience as best I could throughout the project, I visited a centre for blind people in Headingley. Talking to blind adults as research helped me to focus my project and question existing products and communication methods for blind people.
An illustrated book for blind children was an appropriate outcome when designing to expand experience for people without sight. A book is simple, but has many underlying factors that affect people, for instance a book gives people independence, it encourages imagination, and it has an educational value. In general books for the blind consist only of Braille, therefore with written information only, or are very gimmicky and over loaded with textures. Many books for blind children were originally designed for sighted children, then at a later date have had Braille added to make the design more inclusive. While this demonstrates a recognition of the need for inclusive design, perhaps the inclusivity needs to play a part in the beginning of the design process, rather than as an after thought. As well as producing an illustrated book specifically designed for blind children, I also produced a set of direct mails that are jointly focused towards blind children as well as adults. The book is designed to be opened until completely flat (concertina), creating a sense of journey and interaction for several blind children to read it together.
The project overall was successful, the outcomes are professional and of a high standard. The manner in which the project was produced was precise and professional, showing my ability to time manage and reach a quality result, both in design and finished piece. The project has a lot of undertones in terms of message and focus and this could have been a downfall within the project as it may have distracted my attention away from the importance of creating innovative non-visual design. A strength of this project was time management. All the practical details of this project were micro-organised, from the way files for cutting out the illustrations were named, to the way in which each illustration was packed into their separate bag to make construction easier. The organisation of the project enabled me to plan enough time to successfully finish the book and direct mails to a high standard, allowing for potential mistakes, which I would then have time to rectify. Other strengths within the project was my ability to design a non-visual end result, effectively designing without using my eyes and instead concentrating on what the piece feels like when you hold it, touch it, the weight of it and the size of it. All the design decisions within this project were based on the user being blind, therefore the weight of the book itself, or the weight of the envelope that the direct mail arrives in, was all designed with the overall experience of the product in mind.