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 broad 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.
Harmony and Clarity
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.
Getting the Balance Right
Designing for dyslexia can initially feel like you are being restricted as a designer as to how you can approach the problem but it gave me an appreciation for how many people are excluded when standard guidelines are not taken into account. There is also a tendency for accessibility to overcompensate and assume that usability should always prevail at the expense of good design but I’ve found that there should always be a healthy balance.
Design should be accessible but that doesn’t necessarily mean it need be the tool for accessibility. So long as the design is compatible with accessibility then it can still prove effective for all.