Want to improve your work? Free folio reviews availableFind out more


Brand research
Brand design
Sub-brand design
Document design
Marketing content
Brand development


Creating accessible design for Scotland's deaf charity

The majority of people rely on on their eyes and ears to navigate the world, communicate with others and do their work. Few could imagine what life would be like if one of those senses was limited or lost all together. 

We were asked to create an inclusive brand for deafscotland that, along with being eye catching, would be designed for accessibility to help the charity communicate with the deafblind people in their community.

Understanding a new audience

deafscotland identify their members under four key pillars of deafness. Everything we created would have to communicate as clearly as possible with all four groups.

After completing a brand audit we found that, though deafscotland’s deaf members were well served with British sign language (BSL) content, their deafblind members struggled to access the same information.

The brand’s visual style was making it harder for people with reduced vision to see the information being communicated. Additionally the layout of printed documents did not allow screen readers to accurately convey what was written.

Design based on user needs

We researched and tested accessible design to find how it could be applied in deafscotland’s designs. We identified several key concepts we could apply to the brand:

  • Using at least 12pt text with extra line height to make text clear to read
  • Black on yellow is the best contrast for reading, this would be used for headings
  • Use patterns to highlight important information because, to people with sight loss, contrasting patterns are more distinct than solid colour
  • Layout text in documents so it can be easily read by screenreaders

We could use simple, accessible design techniques to create an engaging visual style for all deafscotland members including people with reduced vision.

Brand roll out and success

We applied what we’d learned from the brand audit to the whole deafscotland brand, creating reports, marketing and animations in the new brand style. 

The new style had real cut-through with the deafscotland audience. In the first year after the rebrand there was a 25% increase in readers of the bi-monthly bulletin and a 35% increase in attendance at the yearly conference. 

Sub-brands, conferences and new success

deafscotland aimed to increase revenue from their main conferences and training programmes. To help separate the conferences from the main brand, we created two sub-brands, Connect Us Too and BSL (British Sign Language) For All.

For many BSL users, BSL is their first language with reading English their second. So as part of designing for accessibility, we included the hand symbols for BSL in the logo to make it clear who the campaign is for whilst making it clear to non signers what BSL is.

Increasing public awareness

deafscotland’s research showed there is a severe lack of public understanding around deafness. Most calls to their offices, even from medical professionals, were requests for basic information or to ask how to communicate with a deaf person.

We created a fold-out membership flyer explaining the challenges of living with deafness, including this jumbled headline showing how just a slight change in communication can cause a challenge.

The flyer doubled as an info poster describing the four pillars of deafness and what they mean. These were distributed widely, ending up on the walls of offices, doctors surgeries and public buildings, leading to a decrease in the number of basic info calls deafscotland recieved.


The first year of the new accessible brand direction saw successes in many areas.

  • 50% increase in training course attendance 
  • 35% increase in conference attendance
  • 25% increase in bulletin readership
  • The improved brand and comms lead to new sponsorship for the 2019 conference which decreased the conference’s financial deficit by over 80%

Our work continued through the pandemic creating impact reports, emergency comms and promotional animations in support of the charity and their members.

Working with Orwell met Vila has brought fresh thinking, new ideas and a coherence to our brand. The designs are more relevant and build the brand identity.

Furthermore we have considered our “products”, how we package them and how we price them better. The branding process has helped us appreciate and re-evaluate our value and specialism.
Janis McDonald
Chief Officer, deafscotland