Our Brand Story

Accessibility is always top of mind

To create a better overall experience for our diverse users, we’ve removed as many barriers as possible to provide a more accessible and inclusive product.

First, we established a new mission to Shape the World for Difference™ and refreshed our brand strategy. Then, we introduced a new brand identity, complete with sound and visual system, logo redesign, and ADA-compliant color palette. Our new brand identity features inclusive photography, illustration, and animations; an updated font to improve legibility; a new sound mark, and tone/voice guidelines—all created to make our information more accessible for all users, including those who learn and think differently. As part of a comprehensive approach, we worked with both a brand consultancy firm, Wolff Olins, and a sound-branding company, Listen. The next step was to redesign our website to improve equitable access for all users, regardless of ability, situation, or context.

Optimizing our information 

From an overall brand perspective, we’ve adopted universal design practices and have worked closely with the guidelines from established organizations such as W3C and other respected accessibility communities. We’ve also incorporated vetted best practices (for line and letter spacing, white space, and contrast) into our font and color scheme. And while a majority of our site is already AA compliant, we are and have been continually striving to hit the AAA criteria mark when possible for even better accessibility.

Font - More inclusive readability   

For some people who learn and think differently, certain fonts and letters can be difficult. With the help of our brand consultants at Wolff Olins, we researched an accessible type design that is suitable for both our brand and  our community. Roobert proved to be a font used widely in disability circles and by educators concerned with accessibility. Our team wanted to enhance Roobert’s legibility, so we got in touch with its original designer, Martin Vácha of Displaay. Martin helped us revise key characters to increase legibility for all audiences by making certain letters and numbers more distinguishable for readers. The result is our new custom UnderstoodSans font, tested to lessen confusion for people who learn and think differently. 

Color - Easier on the eye

Our color palette is welcoming, human, and intentional. We use a range of colors to express various emotions. Our ADA-compliant color pairings offer a higher contrast between colors, designed for maximum readability.

Audio - Clarity through consistency

With the help of Listen, we created a unique sound mark, used to distinguish our video and audio content for viewers and listeners. “We researched time signatures and rhythmic patterns. The resulting sound mark was thoughtfully composed to be streamlined and intuitive to fit the needs of this audience,” said Brett Volker, founding partner of Listen. The new sound composition was created from combined minimal parts that come together to form a whole. Then we developed our sound library, keeping in mind people that have sensory issues, so as not to be too jarring or overwhelming.

Language - Simply follow along

We strive for all text to be written and spoken at an 8th-grade reading level, especially when we’re speaking to individuals themselves who learn and think differently. This means we aim to use shorter words and shorter sentences. Our new tone of voice is more empathetic, inviting, and energetic.

How it all comes together

By combining these new brand elements through established guidelines, we are able to provide information to our community in a more accessible way. We’re thinking through accessibility for people with disabilities from both a physical and cognitive User Experience (UX) to foster impartial access for all users.

We’ve applied our new UnderstoodSans font throughout our digital content to improve the reading experience for a wide range of audiences. We then transformed our font into a logo animation that works together with our new three-note mnemonic to clarify the syllables of our brand name. The composition in our logo and video content ensure there are not too many musical stimuli occurring simultaneously, so people who have trouble processing audio are able to follow along easily. This combined execution creates a more direct and comprehensible audiovisual experience.

From a website (product) standpoint, we’re adding more whitespace to our web pages to create a more focused reading experience. We’ve also streamlined our article architecture, so more people have the ability to easily digest the information.

As our audience is ever-evolving, so are we. We will continually adapt to meet the needs of our community by constantly rethinking how we provide our information. 

If your organization is interested in using UnderstoodSans, please reach out to support@understood.org for more information.


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