Can Infographics Bridge Cultures? - dummies

Can Infographics Bridge Cultures?

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Where do infographics come in for bridging cultures? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 382 languages are spoken in American households. You probably aren’t surprised to learn that English and Spanish are the most common, accounting for a strong majority of household languages. But that leaves 380 languages that may not always have a ready translator.

Every time you buy an appliance, you’ve probably noticed that the directions come in multiple languages. And there’s no possible way to translate information into some less common tongues.

Clear, graphical representations of information can be an important way to reach people across cultural and language barriers. The furniture company IKEA is famous for its reliance on visual cues rather than words. The figure shows the universal symbol for elevator; one of dozens of established symbols that cut across language barriers.

The international infographic symbol for elevator.
The international infographic symbol for elevator.

Not only instruction manuals will be important as the world becomes more intertwined. Say, for example, you work for a nonprofit group focused on breast health. A clear, simple diagram of how to examine one’s breasts could provide life-saving information to a woman who may not understand written text or even a doctor’s verbal advice.