Insight on Designing for Deaf People

Insight on Designing for Deaf People

Here are a few points from a fantastic talk on "Designing for Deaf People Helps Everyone" by Marie van Driessche. Marie shares insight into Deaf culture, how inclusive design helps all, and specific notes on creating inclusive experiences for Deaf people.

Checkout the whole video when you have a chance as its definitely worth your time.

Direct video link.

Cultural insight

  • deaf with lowercase 'd' is used to describe or identify anyone who has a severe hearing problem.
  • Deaf with a capital 'D' is used by Deaf people to identify themselves as cultural Deaf and have a strong deaf identity.
  • Many Deaf people do not recognize themselves as being disabled, rather a cultural linguistic minority.

Typography and design

  • Use headings and subheadings.
  • Make one point per paragraph, use short sentences (7-10 words per line.)
  • Use bulleted lists.
  • Use simple and clear language – make your point then explain it.
  • Write in active voice (not passive.)
  • Avoid jargon and slang which can increase cognitive load.
  • Include a glossary for specialized vocabulary.
  • Use white space and chunk content.
  • Use images, diagrams, and multimedia for a visual translation of the content.


  • Use captions/subtitles in various languages as this gives full access to video based content.
  • Video content with sign language interpreter is helpful for complex content. If made available, present a "hands" icon to convey this type of content is available. This alternate method allows the user to choose the solution which fits their needs best.

Contact options

  • Provide multiple contact options – not everyone can use the phone to make a call. Contact form, email, chat app, etc.
  • When you design something make sure people can opt out of information they don't use or find necessary.

Quotable quotes from Marie

"I don't have a disability; society makes me disabled."

"It's important to recognize exclusion. This happens when we solve problems with our own biases."

"Inclusive design means that people are at the center of the process from the start."

Back to blog