Designing a Communication Code for Children

By Inês Amaral, Graça Guedes and Gabriela Gama.

Published by The International Journal of Visual Design

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: July 6, 2016 $US5.00

Considering the importance of recreational activities in a child's life, the existence of spaces created exclusively for that purpose becomes indispensable. It is also important to be aware that we live in a society where diversity prevails; therefore, this diversity should be considered when designing and building these spaces. A multiplicity of interactions may be observed in a recreational space, one of these interactions is the relationship that the child establishes with the space. Nonetheless, it is verified that the elements of communication, which exist in these spaces, are generic and not addressed specifically to children. Considering this lack of communicative elements, as well as children diversity, the definition of a communication code for children would enable a more suitable and safer use of these spaces. This research focused its approach on the conception of a code, based on three visual elements of design: colour, shape and texture; and was designed to be understood, intuitively, by all children between the ages of three and five, in other words, pre-school children, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. A sample of 384 pre-school children, attending Portuguese Schools, was inquired, supported by a questionnaire. Fifteen colours, fourteen geometric shapes (regular and irregular) and sixteen textures (supported by textile fabrics, which represented eight attributes of bipolar touch) were used. Each child was asked to associate the previously referred elements to the following three concepts: permitted, prohibited and danger. Based on the achieved results, the research proposes the introduction of the foundations of a new inclusive communication code, through the associations made, by the child, with these concepts and the visual and tactile elements. Considering also factors which influence the choice of the referred visual elements of design, like the influence of cultures in colours, it is important to refer that this study is only statistically significant for children from mainland Portugal.

Keywords: Visual Design Communication, Children

The International Journal of Visual Design, Volume 10, Issue 3, September, 2016, pp.31-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: July 6, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 868.788KB)).

Inês Amaral

PhD Student, Center for Textile Science and Technology, University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal

Graça Guedes

Professor, School of Engineering, University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal

Gabriela Gama

Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal