Designing for disability: communicating and connecting.


A collaborative, intradisciplinary approach promoted the design, development and creation of a tangible, material object designed to aid meaningful communication between the person with dementia and their caregiver. A low-tech accessible communication tool which enabled the person with dementia to communicate their views, needs and preferences. The process of action research and working with the care home community utilising a co-design approach allowed us to develop an innovative method of communication. The prototype stimulated interest from the care home community who were requesting to purchase the system as part of their introductory and ongoing care package.


The design-led research project was chosen to be included in the ‘Materialities of Care’ conference, a two-day event organised by the Universities of York and Leeds, exploring the role of material culture within health and social care. It addressed how everyday artefacts (such as objects, dress, interiors and architecture) can mediate practices, identities and embodied experiences of health and illness. The event brought together researchers from across disciplines, including sociology, history, archaeology, architecture, geography and museum studies. The design research was presented in poster format at the ‘Materialities of care’ conference and subsequently added to the materialities of care website:



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© John McNair