About the project
Design for Dyslexia was a research lead design project focused around everyday problems that people with dyslexia may face outside of education and was apart of a group of projects alongside NHS Memory Cabinet and Salvation Army G21, that advocated for the use of design and design thinking in solving problems for 'vulnerable' members of society.
This project looked at peoples personal experiences of dyslexia from both a dyslexic and non-dyslexic point of view and explored themes of identity, public perception and the potential socioemotional effects a person with dyslexia may face on a daily basis.
My latest research saw me compare public perceptions of dyslexia with scientific definitions, finding a stark contrast between the two. I achieved this by collecting a sample of ‘perceptions’ in the form of annotated drawings from the general public (both dyslexic and non-dyslexic) and sorted the data through visual analysis to create a character profile of a dyslexic person as portrayed by public perception. The same was done using a plethora of the most prominent definitions of dyslexia found in scientific and academic texts.
The ‘dyslexic’ as characterized by the general public was best represented by a single entry, a picture of a timid child in the corner wearing a dunce hat – as this typified the majority of the entries in a poignant and concise way. Adversely, the character profile based on contemporary scientific definitions was a creative, philosophical and dexterous individual who just so happened to struggle with reading as a side-effect of having a brain better suited to tasks involving visual and spatial reasoning.
" Dyslexia turns out to be a very comic-book-like duality of strengths and weaknesses… imagine if we only knew superman for his weakness to kryptonite and not his superpowers… to us he’d just be a dude with a very specific allergy…."
- Excerpt from presentation
“like a telescope, it can either expand and clarify our view of individuals who struggle to read and spell or, used “the wrong way around,” it can cause our view of these individuals to shrink. Unfortunately, this “diminishing effect” is just what we believe has happened with the way the concept of dyslexia has been used.”
“How should this 'telescope' be used? Should it be used as a tool to narrow our view solely to literacy, language and learning difficulties? Or should it be “turned around” so we can see all the learning and processing features of this amazing group of individuals.
- Eide and Edie, 2011
In my design blog (found at designfordyslexia.wordpress.com) I have played with a few ideas looking particularly at situations a dyslexic may find challenging outside of school in their everyday adult lives as well as potential methods of raising awareness in hopes of helping bridge the aforementioned gap between public perception and scientific definitions.
Some of these ideas included specific dyslexia friendly layout designs for books, explanatory kid’s books for newly diagnosed dyslexics to help them form a positive view of dyslexia, and a guerrilla awareness campaign that involves free ‘dyslexia simulating’ newspapers to be distributed on the London underground.