Can the Blind Be Graphic Designers? | Natalie Gagnon | TEDxEmilyCarrU

Visual communication is just that—visual. But does it have to be? Discover the story of Jillian Sloane, a blind student who, through her enrollment in a university graphic design course, pushed the limits of what society and her instructor, Natalie Gagnon, thought was possible. In this talk, Natalie candidly recounts her blind assumptions of Jill’s capabilities and shares how Jill used clever tactile solutions to design without sight. We bet you haven’t seen LEGO used like this before… Natalie Gagnon is a Vancouver-based art director, publication designer, and design educator who brings brands, content and minds to life. For her, strategic design and crystal clear communication must always intersect regardless of medium, place, or audience. Successful communication—visual and non-visual—is achieved through the creation of immediacy and icon. Immediacy, the need to communicate information effectively, and icon, a strong and memorable form, are interdependent. Whether in her classrooms at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and Simon Fraser University or designing for clients in the private sector, Natalie inspires students to be passionate designers and empowers brands to live their most distinct life. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

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  1. Goosebumps as I heard this story. Absolutely windblown by her ability, It shows that what you are not born with, whether it is an ability or a talent, should not stop you from choosing to do something you truly want to. It is not just talent or passion, it is determination, discipline and the fire to not take NO as an answer in your life.

  2. This reminds of a blind boy back in my junior who always attained first position and won most of us at figuring out things.
    We ended up being mistaken of his blindness coz of his brilliance at even calling some of us by name without even able to physically see us.
    It was one evening when l had my torch on trying to pick my jacket from class when this boy was seriously reading in the dark. Out of surprise, l asked him the most brain tickling question in my life.
    Excuse me Kitumba, why are stressing about revision in this total darkness. "My dear, lam more favored thank you that l can read at anytime l wish (coz my work is in brail) and able to touch and feel each letter despite the darkness or light in place" he answered.
    This sank deep within my subconscious mind that my suspicion triggered me to ask for his help in understanding brail content.
    The story is long but this boy's answer has always made me appreciate everyones uniqueness as well as presence in my life.
    I ended up holding revision sessions with this boy to the rest of the class because of his little content he had trained me on.
    To date, l have been able to remain in touch with him coz of that surprising answer that he pointed out to me.
    What a blessing people we least expect can be in our lives.
    Big ups to you miss !👍
    Am really full of joy that at the end you allowed this blind lady be part of ur learners🙏🤗

  3. This is very interesting, however to be honest She's more of a creative director than a graphic designer in this scenario. She still relies heavily on others to translate things into a visual form

  4. curiosity is the primary ingredient of innovation and invention. imagination is not dependent on sight or having all senses operating optimally. true creativity is born out of altering one’s perspective. in a psychosocial context collaborating forces influence and create change in a system which otherwise seeks homeostases. thank you for sharing this story.

  5. I am not legally blind yet but I am a photographer and have been told so many times that I should not being taking photos at all. I have even had people ask me how I can take photos, my answer is the same way as you by putting the viewfinder to my eye and workout what settings and press the shutter

  6. Design isn't just done on a computer screen. There is a lot of work in the design field that can be done by people with visual impairments/people who are legally blind, this is a great example of how that could be done!

  7. As someone who is legally blind since birth, I got teachers thinking like this a lot when I took animation classes. I certainly proved them wrong but my vision has since deteriorated so I can’t do it anymore 😝

  8. Considering so many blind and partially blind people are clamoring for a world they can interact with without walls in the way, letting them take the lead and making what they want makes perfect sense!

  9. This is interesting! I actually have my own channel filled with great Christian content. Come and watch our inspirational interviews with this link @UCppB8jKHA6vYLtY1SCSLaHA

  10. Okay, but she didn't actually deaign anything? Her aid described the visual language, and took suggestions from the student. That is effectively the relationship between a designer, which would have been the aid, and the girl as a client.
    I get we want to be inclusive and lift up disabled people, and they can do phenomenal things and be incredible artists, but that's not what's happening in this story. Not everyone can do everything, and that's okay. People all have intrinsic limits, and we shouldn't place value on pretending to exceed them.

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