Through the reading, I have learned a lot about universal design and visual literacy. Universal design focuses on “making information and learning accessible in the broader sphere of life for all people” (Lohr, 2008, p. 8). Visual literacy works collectively with universal design and is defined as “the ability to understand, use, and create with images effectively” (Braden, 1996). I have come to realize that I use visual literacy quite frequently in my own classroom, without even knowing! The examples in the textbook were very helpful to assist in the understanding of these terms.
For my example, I found step by step visual instructions on how to use a Keurig Coffee machine. As you can see, the steps are numbered and there are text and visual instructions that go along with each step. The text instructions are displayed in both English and Spanish, making it quite accessible and universal to users. In relation to visual literacy, performance support refers to “something observable and often tangible (e.g., a worksheet, recipe, gas station, bank machine instructions) that helps people do some task at the exact moment that they need help performing that task” (Lohr, 2008, p. 6). This visual does just that.
With further research, I discovered that there are 7 principles of universal design that were founded by the late Ronald Mace and team from North Carolina State University. The 7 principles include: equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for approach and use. For the most part, this example follows the principles fairly well. In order to improve the visual, would suggest that step 4 indicate another caution, warning users that their drink will be hot. It seems like something obvious, yet people burn themselves quite frequently! The visuals could also be a little bit bigger when showing the two buttons to choose from for the size of drink.
Until this assignment, I never considered the importance of universal design and now realize its significance in and outside of the classroom. Now, I am quite aware of examples of visual literacy and can properly evaluate according to the 7 principles.
The 7 Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2016, from http://universaldesign.ie/What-is-Universal-Design/The-7-Principles/
Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.