Socially Responsible Design; Graduate Course in Research and Application, A Case Study

Sanda Katila, Jason Goupil


In the fall of 2010, a class of eleven visual design graduate students at Kent State University were challenged to secure 25 new employers for Cleveland Sight Center clients who were blind or visually impaired (BVI). The problem, unframed and atypical for most visual design students, unfolded into a much broader set of issues in challenges over the 15-week course. Our mission goal expanded to finding innovative and sustainable solutions using design thinking, a design protocol for solving problems using exploratory design processes and experimentation. This protocol examines problems in a holistic way and from multiple perspectives, recognizing creative opportunities and devising multiple solutions, using multi-disciplinary teamwork.

The yearlong project is significant for a number of reasons as it raises important questions for visual designers: How can graduate courses be designed to affect social policies? How can our research be applied to other sight centers in the country? How can similar research begin constructing models for affecting change at national, state or local levels? How can our specific research be used to initiate new policies for blind and visually impaired persons? How can similar courses be designed to affect social changes in local communities?

Full Paper in PDF Document



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