Designing for Accessibility

Image of the cover of The Quest for Independence

Customer Experience Strategy.

There comes a chance for everyone to shine, to be the superhero. In developing a customer experience strategy, the goal is to shine that light on the consumer. Make them feel like a superhero. To do this, companies need to understand who their customers are. To be a superhero, though, we need to know who our heroes were before they were super. A good customer experience strategy understands both Superman and Clark Kent. As a customer whisperer, my goal is to pull those insights and help companies develop them into a message and strategy that resonates and connects with the end-user.

Accessibility as a Growing Trend.

Any marketer using Google knows that accessibility has become increasingly important in all types of design and media. More than 32 million adults report some form of visually impairment and Five hundred fifty-nine thousand nine hundred forty-three children (559,943) will have a form of visual impairment.

Three panels from the graphic novel The Quest for Independence about two visually impaired teens, Sophia and Alex.

Understanding Your Audience.

When my team and I met with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), we did a series of interviews with all the stakeholders. We spoke to those in the program, those who already graduated, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Social Rehabilitation (SR) Counselors, and the parents of students. We learned that each of these students had their own superpower, skills they learned along the way that became strengths. They did not let their impairment turn into kryptonite. ,

A split panel from the graphic novel The Quest for Independence showing the superhero MCB.

Speaking to Your Audience.

The documents we reviewed from Massachusetts Pre-ETS services or
other states were boring, ugly, complex, and read like a legal document.
For parents, the documents were difficult to understand, and I could
not imagine a teenager, one who was just informed they were losing their
sight, comprehending these documents. However, it was clear that the
documentation did not speak to their audience in a way that was positive
and engaging. They were not written or designed with the customer in

Creating a Hero.

We knew immediately we wanted to create a graphic novel, a visual story that is engaging for this age group. Focused on diversity, the team created two fictional high school students, Sophia, who is going blind, and Alex, who is already blind. We wanted our hero to be approachable to our characters and created our Mr. Preets, who is a middle-aged advisor who is also blind y. In the story, Mr. Preets transitions into MCB, a larger-than-life superhero who has developed a robust set of tools that help him overcome obstacles around resilience, accessibility, mobility, and independence. Finally, MCB expresses how he would never have reached his full potential as a full-time superhero if he hadn’t made a choice as a teenager to become employed with the help of Pre-ETS services.

Left to Right, Skip Henk (President of Xplor, Shoshana Burgett (Flounder of Pink Elephant Productions) and David D’arcangelo (Massachusetts Commissioner for the Blind)

Designing for Accessibility.

We all use technology differently, and the visually impaired are no different. Smartphones can increase the font size, and programs like JAWS readers allow text to be read aloud. Even our most common apps, from Microsoft PowerPoint to LinkedIn, ask the user to add Alt Text — a text description to help those visually impaired understand the images. In addition, the team delivered a multi-technology approach for accessibility providing a:

  • Printed graphic novel.
  • Digital accessible PDF.
  • Audio media file.
  • Accessible website.
  • Infographic for Parents.
  • Social Media images and GIFS.
  • A Stakeholders Packet.
  • A Poster Design.
  • Keychain to provide to Pre-ETS Consumers.
Landing page of the new Massachusetts Commision for the Blind, The Quest for Independence Website
Landing page of the new Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, The Quest for Independence Website

Proven Case that Accessibility Empowers Everyone to Be Their Own Hero.

The MCB Pre-ETS graphic novel, The Quest for Independence, paints a vibrant picture of the program advantages using concepts that the reader can relate to. It is written in a language that is easy to understand. The characters are approachable and relatable, and the graphic novel is engaging and accessible for the visually impaired. In The Quest for Independence, MCB empowers Sophia and Alex to become their own superhero and, in turn, empower the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind’s readers too.

Award Winning Case Study.

The Pink Elephant team was thrilled to learn we won best Application at Xplor, and were even prouder to take the award alongside the Massachusetts Commissioner for the Blind, David D’arcangelo, at their award ceremony in November. This was a team effort and one of my proudest projects. Seeing the photos of kids engaging with this project speaks to how much work still needs to be done to be inclusive to all.



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