Introduction

Every day, thousands of tourists and new immigrants enter Canada for the first time across our borders and through our airports. Arriving in a new country is daunting enough, but it is even more challenging if you do not speak the languages. First impressions are important, and as a multi-cultural nation, Canada prides itself on welcoming people from around the world. Signs and visual information must be easily understood by everyone. A series of standard, universally designed symbols are recognized internationally, representing concepts such as washrooms, first aid and no smoking.


CURRICULUM LINKS

The pilot activity was executed in a Grade 9 Canadian Geography course. This learning object also links to the following curriculum, its related themes and outcomes: Grade 9 Canadian History Since WW1 Grade 10 Civics Grade 11 Canadian History and Politics Since 1945



STRUCTURE

This activity can take place over Read More

Introduction

Every day, thousands of tourists and new immigrants enter Canada for the first time across our borders and through our airports. Arriving in a new country is daunting enough, but it is even more challenging if you do not speak the languages. First impressions are important, and as a multi-cultural nation, Canada prides itself on welcoming people from around the world. Signs and visual information must be easily understood by everyone. A series of standard, universally designed symbols are recognized internationally, representing concepts such as washrooms, first aid and no smoking.


CURRICULUM LINKS

The pilot activity was executed in a Grade 9 Canadian Geography course. This learning object also links to the following curriculum, its related themes and outcomes:

  • Grade 9 Canadian History Since WW1
  • Grade 10 Civics
  • Grade 11 Canadian History and Politics Since 1945



STRUCTURE

This activity can take place over 2 to 3 class periods. Use the case study to introduce the subject of universal design, the needs of new immigrants and how design can respond. The activity is appropriate for individual and group work, and for in-class work or homework. Students can choose a Canadian city for their project based on profiles of immigration they obtain from the census. The brochure or 'survival kit' design should take into consideration the needs of the target audience. It also should convey essential information in a clear manner for people who do not speak English or French.

 
INTRODUCTION

Similar to problem-based learning, design thinking and the creative problem-solving process of designers are adaptable to many subject areas. They can be applied either as a means of enquiry, for example as a teaching and learning strategy, or as the subject of inquiry, such as designing a brochure or temporary shelter. In either case, students employ creative, critical, and reflective thinking; they engage in research on the particular subject matter, and they analyze and propose responses while working collaboratively in groups. The real-life problems are human-centred and have social, cultural, and economic implications which, in turn, connects students with their communities. Because design thinking and the design problem-solving methodology results in multiple solutions, there is no one right answer to any given problem. Evaluation is based on depth of inquiry, insight, and critical analysis, and the breadth of creative and innovative responses. The learning process is self-directed and teachers act as facilitators and guides.

In this project, students practice design as the subject of investigation by designing an information resource brochure for recent immigrants. Canada is a desirable emigrant destination, but entering Canada and becoming members and citizens in a new society can be fraught with challenges. Although many support services exist to provide aid, communication barriers can prevent immigrants from accessing these valuable resources. Beginning by developing empathy for their subjects, students familiarize themselves with personal narratives of recent immigrants. Accessing census data, researching services, and locating neighbourhoods inhabited by specific ethno-cultural groups deepens students' knowledge of the subject. The content of their inquiry is assembled into a brochure which employs icons and symbols to support the text. Students share their knowledge through group presentations and discussion.


ACTIVITY OUTLINE

This project has four parts. Before you begin, read through the personal stories of immigrants to help you gain insight and empathy for their situation. Then:

 
1. Research census data on immigration in the Canadian city of your choice and illustrate the relevant data in chart form. Access census information on immigration at: http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/home/index.cfm

 
2. Using the Internet, research the services available for newly arrived citizens in a Canadian city of any size. What challenges do they face? How can they be overcome?

 
3. Assemble a brochure with information that might be useful as a survival guide (or resource guide) for new arrivals in the city of your choice. What essential services will they need to know about? For example, will they be able to find the nearest grocery store and doctor's office? Can you find a map that is easy to read? Keeping in mind that many new immigrants will not speak English or French, how might you apply the icons and symbols of universal design to your brochure? Do you need to create new symbols that represent local services and landmarks?

 
4. Assemble your research findings, charts and brochure in a presentation to your classmates. Develop questions of your own that emerge from your research. Following your group presentation, the class will engage in a concluding discussion of the issues faced by immigrants to Canada. What might be done to improve the emigrant experience and their integration into Canadian society?

 
Immigrant Stories:

 

 

ACTIVITY RESULTS

The pilot activity was executed in a Grade 9 Canadian Geography course. The student teacher who lead this unit assigned each group an immigrant story and students designed a brochure for the ethno-cultural background of the immigrant. All students made engaging group presentations to the class using a digital projector to display their individual brochures and discuss their icons. They commented that it was difficult to find appropriate icons on the Internet. The teacher had added a language component to the assignment where students were asked to translate common phrases. Some students found it difficult to find accurate translations on the Internet.

AIGA Design Archives: Signage, Terminal 1, Pearson International Airport, Toronto http://designarchives.aiga.org/entry.cfm/eid_1120

AIGA: Symbol Signs http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm?CategoryID=38

Entro Communications: Wayfinding and Signage http://www.entro.com

Government of Canada: Accessibility of Airport Terminals: Toronto Pearson International Airport http://www.accesstotravel.gc.ca/airports/toronto-e.asp

Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario www.rgdontario.com

Graphic Designers of Canada www.gdc.net

Signage Design www.designofsignage.com

Statistics Canada: 2001 Census of Canada http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census01/home/index.cfm

 
Universal design

Design Exchange universal programs www.dx.org/universal

http://www.udeducation.org/teach/course_mods/donnelly1.asp

Universal Education Online: The Principles of Universal Design http://udeducation.org/learn/aboutud.asp#principles

Universal Design Symbols http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm?CategoryID=38

 

Additional Resources

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Quantifying Universal Design: A Program For Implementation. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2004.

Clarkson, John. Inclusive Design: Design for the Whole Population. Springer, 2003.

Evamy, Michael. In Sight: A Guide to Design With Low Vision in Mind: Examining the Notion of Inclusive Design, Exploring the Subject Within a Commercial and Social Context. RotoVision, 2004.

Imrie, Robert. Inclusive Design: Designing and Developing Accessible Environments. Spon Press, 2001.

Keates, Simeon. Countering Design Exclusion: An Introduction to Inclusive Design. Springer, 2003.

SIETAR Europa. Images, Cultures, Communication: Images, Signs, Symbols: The Cultural Coding of Communication. SIETAR Europa Congress,1997.

Westcott, Jacqueline. Improving Information on Accessible Tourism for Disabled People. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2004.

 
Resources about Teaching Design

Owen-Jackson, G. (2002). Teaching design and technology in secondary schools. A reader. London: Routledge/Falmer.

Owen-Jackson, G. (2002). Aspects of teaching secondary design and technology. Perspectives on practice. London: Routledge/Falmer.


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Learning Objectives

Students explore contrasting views of citizenship and identity in Canada. They gain an understanding of challenges faced by new citizens in a new society and how design can respond to their needs. They also explore the concept of universal design, design that makes life easier for everyone regardless of size, age or ability. Students apply the design process through research and collaborative problem-solving. They engage multiple learning styles and cognitive skills; practice planning, organization, and interpersonal skills through group work; use current technology to research the problem and render their final solutions.

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