Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Useful Graphics

An audience's interpretation of a sign or graphic design depends on both the design and the person hoping to decipher it. Factors that can get in the way of the message certainly include context and culture; but the weight of responsibility for an effective message rests on the graphic design. Successful design delivers an accurate message, without the words, to the greatest possible audience regardless of external factors.

I was just cleaning out a set of three kitchen utility baskets, mostly used as catch-alls for frequently consulted paperwork, when I revisited this item that's probably been buried among some town catalogs for at least a year. It's a sheet of stickers. Each sticker is about one inch square. I can't really remember exactly how they were intended to be used, but I think they were sent by my former insurance company for use in an "asthma self-care workbook" that they promote in order to "help" asthmatics track and record their asthma maintenance habits.

I don't want to be cynical or sarcastic or anything, but it seems to me asthmatics (at least experienced ones, even children) are pretty darn good at using whatever means required of them, since they really, really hate it when they can't breathe. This must be why I simply popped the sticker sheet in a basket and forgot about it. If I were sedated through a whole day, I would still remember to take my meds. They do, after all, keep me alive.

Besides, I'm not quite sure what to make of these designs; what do they mean, exactly?:

Text says, "FLU" across the pair of lungs. Meaning? Flu happens in the lungs. Is the sticker so that I can warn unsuspecting passersby when I have the flu?
This is supposed to depict a "flow meter"; it's a device that determines whether or not I'll make the Breathing Olympics. But on the sticker it looks like a mercury thermometer.
Time to write a note to the doctor, since I can't breathe well enough to speak out loud?
Look out, muggers! I am a dangerous asthmatic with a potentially deadly inhaler, and I know how to use it!
No, really! I'm not kidding! And not only that, but I carry more than one inhaler!

While he's out of the room, it's a chance to snag the doctor's prescription pad and write up some extra scripts for myself!

This is a rough depiction of my most recent chest x-ray, showing me swallowing my gum before I get in trouble.

Always remember to run away and cower in a corner of the room whenever you encounter anyone bearing a hypodermic larger than you!



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