Overview

Concept Northern is the largest assistive technology supplier in Scotland serving the majority of higher education institutions across the country. They needed a brand that unified their services and enhanced the company profile while also appealing to their customer base.

The company services were reduced to four key areas; Education, Workplace, E-learning and Employability. With these four areas defined, an encompassing brand was developed to showcase them.

The cornerstone of the company is its dyslexia support so this became a key driver when it came to making the brand decisions. Dyslexic people have different requirements to non-dyslexic customers and the brand and materials had to be capable of meeting those requirements.

Choosing a typeface suitable for dyslexic readers can pose its own challenges. As dyslexia can cause readers to see letters rotated they must have a visual weight, especially letters which have a symmetrical equivalent such as p and q or b and d. Lowercase letter ‘l’ and the number ‘1’ should also exhibit differences and ideally, letters such as ‘a’ should have a handwritten style.

With all of these requirements, the choices can quickly diminish and many of the suggested typefaces do not lend themselves well to professional company branding as they can come across unprofessional (Comic Sans / Dyslexie).

After much research and user testing, I chose to use the Google Font Convergence which ticks a lot of the requirements for accessibility while still providing a professional and friendly feel. Convergence was paired with Droid Sans to provide a contrasting, professional title face.

The contrast was another important aspect to consider so each of the core colours is capable of sitting on the base navy to ensure accessibility. Printed materials had to be compliant with standard accessibility requirements so a standard template for paragraph styles and font sizes was established to ensure continuity throughout. I also ensured that all printed materials were also available digitally in PDF and Docx file formats so as to be compatible with screen readers.

Designing for accessibility can initially feel like you are being restricted as to how you can approach a given problem but it gave me an appreciation for how many people are excluded when standard guidelines are not taken into account.

Many associate accessibility with disability but as digital access spreads to more devices and into more aspects of our lives exclusion can be a noisy environment, a busy dominant hand or a poor internet connection.

Accessibility is never an option to be layered on to the design at the end of the project but should form the cornerstone of any well-researched proposition.