Design and illustration

Design and illustration play a key role in visualising and conveying information to an audience. Inclusive design enables communicators to consider the full range of human diversity in the design process to avoid exclusion. The following are practical considerations when designing and illustrating materials.

Guiding principles

  • Remember that inclusive design is a methodology for how to approach design rather than an outcome – it is an ongoing process to eliminate points of exclusion.
    • Exclusion happens when we solve problems using our own biases. Seek out these exclusions by considering experiences outside of your own and use them as opportunities to create inclusive designs. (Microsoft)
  • Solve for one, extend to many. All people have abilities and limits to those abilities. A solution that works well for someone who uses a wheelchair might also benefit someone pushing a stroller. Inclusive design works across a spectrum of related abilities, connecting different people in similar circumstances. Consider other types of people who could benefit from the same solutions. This may involve different solutions or processes for different groups of people, rather than a one size fits all approach. (Microsoft)
  • Consider the group(s) you’re trying to represent and ensure this comes across accurately when selecting colours for skin tones, hair, etc. Avoid ambiguity when representing different groups.
  • Consider any dress, assistive devices, or religious symbols that might be important to help convey differences but ensure these are accurately represented. 
  • Avoid caricatures that exaggerate or satirize the portrayal of individuals or groups.
  • Consider the medium. Print versus digital will affect aspects of accessibility like colours and typesetting.
  • Consider hiring people of diverse backgrounds to create designs and illustrations.

Accessibility considerations

Designing and illustrating with accessibility in mind requires identifying and understanding the diverse range of people who may access our designs. The following information is taken from the RGD Access Ability 2 Guide.

Sensory considerations

  • Eyesight
  • Hearing
  • Multimodality

Minimize cognitive load

There is a finite amount of new information we can process, memorize, and recall at any given time. This mental effort is called cognitive load. Reduce it by:

  • Grouping
  • Chunking
  • Hierarchy
  • Anchors
  • Consistency
  • Grid
  • Organizing content in a manner that does not require the user to cross-reference
  • Avoiding the use of legends

Accessible colour usage

  • Consider all three parameters of colour: hue, saturation and tonal value.
  • The least variance in human perception of colour is in how we see tonal contrast, so it’s best to maintain sufficient tonal contrast for accessibility. For optimal tonal contrast, think of your work in terms of greyscale. Switch your display to greyscale or print your work in black and white.
  • Consider using with the highest possible degree of contrast, and when used together they both emphasize each other.
  • Hue must always be used as a secondary indicator of meaning. If your design doesn’t work in black and white, your design doesn’t work.


  • Consider if animations or effects could cause a seizure, dizziness or vertigo through light or use of motion.
  • Consider if there any animations that could be distracting by constantly moving, blinking, or auto-updating.
  • If possible, provide controls or options to stop, pause, hide, or change the frequency of any animations or effects.


  • Consider if the font style is easy to read.
  • Ensure design is flexible enough that the font could be modified to a comfortable reading level by the user.


The following sites and resources were used as references for compiling this guidance: