Graphic Design Students Partner With Duluth Nonprofit

Nov 3, 2019

School of Fine Arts students learning about accessible design.

Exterior of Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss


The Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss Executive Director Mary Junnila and Associate Director Betsy Mistek are presenting to graphic design students on Wednesday, November 6 from 10–10:30 a.m. and on Thursday, November 7 from 2–2:30 p.m. The Emerging Media Design classes are in 206 Montague Hall, 1211 Ordean Court.

Assistant Professor John L. O’Neill partnered with the nonprofit to offer his students experience with accessible design. “Design is thought of as something that we can see, but it’s actually something that can make the user’s experience easier.” 

The learning is experiential, as O’Neill’s students are creating a social media campaign for Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss.

The hope is that students will continue to think about inclusive design when they’re working in their careers, which is especially important as the population ages and more people experience sight problems. “If you’re only designing for people with perfect vision, you’re missing out on a large population,” says O’Neill.

Amplifying a Compelling Message

Lighthouse Center for Vision Loss, formally Lighthouse for the Blind, has been a part of the Duluth community for 100 years. Its mission is to ease clients’ adjustments to vision loss through training, support groups, and home and workplace adaptations.

The nonprofit has a Facebook page, but staff are hoping to have its content amplified through the partnership with the School of Fine Arts. 

“It’s difficult information to get across– vision loss is one of the things that people are most scared to experience,” says Associate Director Betsy Mistek. “Getting the word out about what’s available and what’s possible will be compelling for people who are struggling.”


School of Fine Arts Graphic Design Program