The team behind the winning concept Blanke Ark at the award ceremony. Photo: Erlend Sæteren
The current election equipment in Norway has been difficult for voters with common disabilities to access. Ballots were unreachable for wheelchair users and visually impaired people could not vote without asking for assistance. This project redesigned the ballot and booth system to make elections accessible and appealing for everyone.
Blanke Ark, the new design can be accessed by voters with different abilities. The graphic profile of all elements is consistent. Black text and symbols are displayed on a white background and the deliberate use of orange attracts greater attention to selected elements. Orange guide tape provides a good contrast against most floors.
Booths have two table heights to accommodate standing and sitting voters and are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Labelling for the ballot papers have a suitable font size for low vision users and ballot papers are folded removing the need for ‘difficult to access’ envelopes.
The curtain now has a high contrast orange rod to make it easier to handle. The ballot box, where the ballot paper is posted, is placed at a height that wheelchair users can reach and the opening is high contrast orange and shaped to aid those with unsteady hands or visual impairment.
The client, The Ministry for Local Government and Regional Development and Norsk Form, won the Norwegian Design Council Inclusive Design Award in 2010 for Blanke Ark which will be recommended to local polling stations in forthcoming elections. Blanke Ark has been developed with the design agencies Blueroom, Kadabra and Innovativoli Design.
Navarsete: Norway is far ahead
Local Government and Regional Minister Liv Signe Navarsete is very pleased that the Ministry has been awarded with the Inclusive Design Award. “Norway has a strong focus on universal design, and therefore it is natural that we also look at the possibility of making the election process more accessible to all. I am therefore both proud and delighted to receive this award” said Navarsete.
“The Inclusive Design Award rewards companies and designers who develop user-friendly and intuitive solutions that can be used by anyone, regardless of physical or cognitive ability. This is something that is becoming increasingly important, especially since an older population means that a growing proportion of the population has one or more reduced functional capabilities,” said project manager Eline Strøm-Gundersen from the Norwegian Design Council.
Facts about the Inclusive Design Award:
The Inclusive Design Award is awarded by the Norwegian Design Council in cooperation with the programme IT-Funk from the Norwegian Research Council, and goes to the a client and designer who has developed a product or solution with a particular focus on usability and intuitive understanding that will be made availble to a wider audience. Inclusive design is not about aids for the handicapped or niche solutions for special groups, rather it is about catering for ease of use, intuitive understanding and overall improved user experience of a product or a service. The award is presented once a year at the annual Design Day organised by the Norwegian Design Council, and the decision is made by an independent jury.