◊ Brand and illustration ◊


The aim of this project is to enhance the communicative abilities of deaf children and their hearing families by integrating design into their homes from birth through school-age years. The overarching goal is to address language deprivation within the deaf community.
This project intends to collaborate with the deaf community to support hearing families in navigating the upbringing of deaf children. This project is an exploration of the potential of design and language-rich environments in facilitating communication and understanding.

Specifically targeted towards the deaf community in Uruguay, the project utilizes Uruguayan Sign Language (LSU) for visual communication, accompanied by written content in Spanish. This brief introduction provides a glimpse into the comprehensive work I've done, which will be presented in detail below.
Main objective: The primary objective of the project is to establish a language-rich atmosphere within the households of deaf children, with the goal of assisting them and their families in early sign language acquisition, thereby mitigating language deprivation. Design aims to fill the void of silence often present in these homes, where a lack of language leads to a lack of communication altogether.

Espejo (Mirror) initiative endeavors to introduce design into the homes of families with deaf children aged 0-5 years. This approach seeks to bridge the communication gap between deaf children and their hearing parents, who often face challenges in communication due to the absence of a shared language. The project consists of a kit  encompassing various categorized contents, each designed with specific objectives and functions aimed at facilitating the acquisition of sign language. Drawing inspiration from the Montessori perspective on language learning, the project adopts a structured approach to support the linguistic development of deaf children within their familial environment.
Development of the visual identity: Understanding the target audience was crucial for developing the visual identity. The system needed to resonate with both hearing parents and deaf children while being cost-effective to produce. Thus, the decision to utilize risography was made. This printing method allows for fast and affordable reproduction, incorporating vibrant colors and a handcrafted finish.

The color palette was selected based on risograph tints, with six different hues chosen to create a wide range of shades when overlaid. However, to streamline production and minimize costs, each product is limited to a maximum of three tints.

For typography, legibility was paramount, while also allowing for a diverse range of communicative tones. The GT Maru super family was selected for headlines due to its extreme legibility and versatility, capable of conveying both playfulness and seriousness. Discordia was chosen as the body font for its hand-like finishes, excellent legibility, and a balance of fun and seriousness inherent in its design.
strategy: This involves presenting a layout that outlines the contents to be incorporated into Espejo, along with various potential pathways for audience engagement within the narrative universe. It's important to note that each route differs, influenced by audience type and segmentation.

Subsequently, the entirety of the contents is detailed, showcasing the versatility of the visual system and its integration within the home environment. This layout demonstrates how the visual components interact within the household, adapting to different scenarios and user interactions.

Each user of this system has different needs and different starting points. So the system has to be flexible enough to allow users to have different pathways through it and still be able to fulfill the ultimate goal of learning sign language.
First contact: The project collaborates with APASU (Uruguayan Association of Families and Friends of the Deaf), leveraging its established networks. When a family notifies APASU of their child's diagnosis, the association offers the Mirror package through personalized, face-to-face dialogue or calls, recognizing the importance of human connection. Emphasis is placed on parent networks for resource recommendations and mutual support to the family of the deaf newborn.

Once the package reaches the family's home, they engage with Espejo. The initial phase focuses on engaging the family with items including complete packaging, a welcome card, and a fanzine explaining how the kit works.
Mirror: In the second phase, the project focuses on creating a linguistically enriching home environment. Various pieces with specific communicative goals are designed to enable autonomous navigation and facilitate language development. From picture and word cards to interactive games, each element fosters family communication. Prioritizing accessibility and inclusion, the pieces are tailored to individual family needs. The goal is seamless integration into daily life to enhance communication and learning. Encouraging frequent interaction, such as affixing stickers to backpacks, is emphasized. Ultimately, the project empowers families to promote their children's language development effectively and respectfully.
Contact with other parents: In the third phase, initiated after family engagement with Espejo, parents seek connection with others in similar circumstances to foster community, strengthen familial bonds, and support the holistic development of deaf children. Materials facilitate parent-to-parent contact and aid in adjusting to their new identity, including scannable codes, contact information, and recommendations from experienced parents. Espejo serves as the foundation for this stage, encouraging families to connect with APASU for ongoing support and resources. This enduring connection with APASU provides solace, guidance, and a sense of belonging for families raising deaf children.
conclusions: The journey of this project was lengthy and challenging at times, yet I'm grateful for my perseverance, and I'm immensely satisfied with the outcomes achieved. Through this endeavor, I not only acquired knowledge in Uruguayan Sign Language but also discovered the intrinsic value of bridging the design profession with research.

Participating in sign language classes not only honed my language skills for illustrations but also fostered a deeper connection with the deaf community. It provided me with insight into the challenges faced by hearing individuals when learning sign language and allowed me to empathize with my target audience. Professionally, this project was a profoundly enriching experience, cultivating resilience and attentiveness in me.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my teachers and friends who accompanied me throughout this journey. It was a gratifying way to conclude my academic career, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such a meaningful endeavor.
«Before, I used to call myself 'she'. When I learned sign language I learned that I am me, I have a name, my name is Manuela»