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I'm working on a mobile app that will show a collection of health resources for children. Some of these are for specific conditions such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, preterm birth, but the majority of users are "healthy" children, for lack of a better word, and won't need such specialised content.

Illustrations would help to distinguish between the categories.

How do I choose representations for the categories that correspond to medical conditions while being sensitive to the users whose child is affected by them? Should I go as far as to choose abstract designs rather than figurative illustrations for all items in my collection, or indeed avoid any kind of representation, so that the medical conditions don't stand out as inferior?

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    Well you definitely shouldn't use a literal illustration! – Ryan Jun 11 '15 at 18:58
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    Challenging! Even sites such as ndss.com avoid iconography for most of their content. – Scott Jun 11 '15 at 19:16
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    I think you sorta answered your own question with your concerns: these are sensitive topics that may be better handled with words rather than icons. – DA01 Jun 11 '15 at 19:57
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Tough question. I'm not sure my answer is the best and I'm sure there will be other good suggestions, but my first thought was to use each condition's ribbon or color(s).

I would assume that most of these conditions have a ribbon (pink = breast cancer, green = mental illness, etc.).

Down's, for example, is blue/yellow.

ribbon

I'm not saying that you should use a ribbon for each item - that would get cluttered and redundant - but maybe you can use their colors somehow, to differentiate between the resources.

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    Great thinking! All three conditions have listed do have their own ribbon colours. Seems like a great way to identify them (although it's hard to pick a colour for the categories that aren't medical condition, but I could always make my own colour-coding choices for those) – Clafou Jun 11 '15 at 18:28
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    Don't forget that using color as the sole distinguishing feature will exclude users with color blindness and total blindness. (That would be particularly embarrassing in a health app.) – Ewan Mellor Jun 12 '15 at 2:48
  • @EwanMellor VERY good point! – Manly Jun 12 '15 at 16:03

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