Team Sense Project Uses Design to Aid Visually Impaired

Eight teams debuted their projects at Color in Action, the final presentation resulting from a radical course led by instructor Tom Sieu last spring. The 16-week course, presented in partnership with Pantone, first explored how color can redefine or revitalize an object or space with a social cause in mind, citing examples like (RED), the global HIV/AIDS program co-founded by U2 frontman Bono and Bobby Shriver. Case studies like this that leveraged color to extend a social cause’s reach provided context to the students for what was to come. The young designers were then challenged to think about how color can be used as a vehicle to create change, not just by redesigning better things, but by shaping better experiences through its use.

Students were divided into eight teams, and each  team concentrated on a theme, ranging from poverty and education to handicap awareness and national pride. “Team Sense focused on the visually impaired. They developed a coding system based on braille learning symbols,” explains Sieu, like a proud parent. The concept behind that coding system, dubbed “Reveal: Seeing is Believing,” can be used in a number of ways, such as an embossed detail on clothing tags indicating colors so that those with visual impairments can shop independently. Team Sense and Team Nation, which used colors in a way that showed commonalities rather than differences among nations, were both named as finalists at the Color in Action spring show. Team Bully was selected by judges as the Color in Action winner (learn more and see images of Team Bully’s project in the November 2013 issue of HOW).

Team Sense imposes a thought-provoking question: Imagine if you were to lose your eyesight or only see shades of gray tomorrow. How would you be able to experience color? Through their project, the team aimed to “imagine a world where people who are blind and visually impaired can also enjoy the beauty of color through touch.”

In partnership with the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco, the students created Reveal: Feeling is Believing, a tactile and color code system based on geometric shapes to assist the visually impaired with identifying color. This system has a wide variety of uses, including the possibility to aid the visually impaired when shopping in a store.

Reveal also includes a set of flash cards that are meant to be used as an educational tool when learning the Reveal color system. The cards are embossed with Braille.

Another big part of the proposed campaign is its interactive elements, including a mobile app that can be used to take a photo of any object or clothing to identify the color.

Project Title: Team Sense
Instructor: Tom Sieu in partnership with Pantone
School: Academy of Art, San Francisco,
Students: Allen Aliangan, Chhunpore Rith, Melissa Kelly, Roger Wang

One thought on “Team Sense Project Uses Design to Aid Visually Impaired

  1. TaraF007

    How interesting! So often when we think of color we think of its universal appeal, but sometimes people need help! I really like how the visual and technological were brought into play. It just goes to show how important it is that campaigns and strategies reach out to customers in a variety of ways — all the while maintaining a sense of unified brand identity Thanks for posting! Tara F at