The Centre for Ageing Better – supported by Public Health England – is launching a free online competition to rethink the symbols and icons commonly used in public to represent ageing and older age groups. Ageing Better hopes to use new icons to challenge stereotypes and imagery associated with old age – in particular, the familiar illustrations of walking sticks and hunched backs.
Research has shown that stereotypes can become self-fulfilling prophecies, as they can affect how older people view themselves, their own capabilities and the kinds of activities they engage with.
The panel want designers to submit their designs for ‘age-positive’ icons that avoid harmful stereotypes. Like all icons, the designs need to be simple and instantly recognisable – and appropriate for use in reports, presentations, infographics and other related outputs as a way of visually denoting ‘ageing’ or ‘older people’, in the same way a piggy bank is synonymous with moneysaving, for example.
The purpose of the competition is to offer alternatives to the limited choice of icons currently available, and so the winning icon isn’t just for use by Ageing Better and partners but will also be made publicly available for unlimited use by others. Following the shortlisting stage, decided by a panel of experts, the winner of the competition will subsequently be awarded a contract. The winning entrant will work with Ageing Better to expand their design into a wider set of icons and illustrations.