Association for Self Advocacy
People with intellectual disabilities are among the
most vulnerable groups in Croatia. They are broadly
discriminated against and denied any legal agency. They
are neither given opportunities to vote nor to marry, nor
for any type of employment or life outside the institution.
ASA is a movement of individuals who speak up and
fight together against these and all injustices that occur
due to their disabilities.
ASA’s Mission Statement speaks to the fact that since the labor market is inaccessible to people with intellectual disabilities, they must often depend on social welfare. There are very few community-based service providers for the intellectually disabled in Croatia. Instead, the government places them in large residential institutions. ASA is in opposition to this policy. The institutions do not afford human dignity. Dormitories for dozens of people, rigid rules, and the lack of privacy and personal agency are just a few of the negative characteristics of institutional life.
The Fellow’s assignment was to create a recognizable visual identity for ASA to increase the efficacy of its advocacy campaigns for the rights of all Croatians with intellectual disabilities.
After an intensive week-long introduction to the
organization Cotton devised an overall strategy for
creating a new, stronger graphic look for ASA. The
deliverables included branding, print collateral in two
languages, and a template for an e-newsletter. As she
got to know some of the self-advocates and their stories,
Cotton discovered an organization rich in narrative.
Going forward, she recommended that these stories
inform all aspects of the organization’s brand identity.
Cotton’s first task was the creation of a logo. She
presented key staff with sketches to be refined into
four main concepts that would be shown to the entire
organization at the weekly meeting. The self-advocates
chose a logo design punctuated with an exclamation
point which jump-started a conversation on the broader
branding process. They discussed Cotton’s suggestions
about including stories in their branding and agreed that
new assets should embody both their common struggle
for equal rights and at the same time the many individual
tales to be told.
Cotton designed letterhead and envelope templates in Croatian and English to reflect the new brand identity. The next task was less straightforward, as Cotton felt strongly that a new poster and brochure for the organization required illustration representing individual self-advocates — providing faces for the stories. Using watercolor renderings of individuals and strong black typography, the print pieces capture both the vulnerability of the self-advocates and their strong desire for and belief in the possibility of societal change.
Association for Self Advocacy (ASA)
ASA strives to promote and protect the rights of people with intellectual disabilities. The organization actively supports deinstitutionalization and the development of community-based alternatives to institutions. It aims to achieve the full social inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in all realms of civil society.
Jen Cotton (Parsons MFA DT 2010) is a designer and artist whose work often contains a political critique of contemporary society. Her practice is centered in making physical objects that are in part tangible, often using ceramics and low-relief sculpture.