Examining disability and dementia through a design lens

Our own Dr Kanvar Nayer and PhD student Ilianna Ginnis on the importance of bringing people living with dementia and intellectual disabilities into the multimedia design processes.

Dr. Kanvar Nayer, Unit Leader, Industrial Design and Product Drawing at Monash College is passionate about improving the quality of life of the geriatric population, so much so that he developed ‘MemoryBox’, a non-medicinal personalised multimedia system dedicated to people living with dementia. Back in 2020, we learnt about his exploration into technologies in the article ‘Thanks for the memories’, and in 2022, Kanvar’s exploration continues.

Together with his PhD student, Ilianna Ginnis, Kanvar recently conducted a session at the MPavilion on 'Cognition in Design Practice: Examining Disability and Dementia through a Design Lens'.

“The objective of the session was to remind designers to walk a mile in one’s shoes in order to better experience and understand physical and perceptual diversities,” Kanvar and Ilianna said.

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“It’s important to include people living with dementia or with intellectual disabilities in the design processes wherever possible, rather than making assumptions on their needs. Just because some people may have difficulty in expressing their concerns and preferences, does not mean they don’t have insightful views.”

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The audience consisted of family members whose loved ones are living with dementia or  intellectual disabilities, clinicians, academics and students. Feedback from the audience was overwhelmingly positive and reported that the workshop highlighted the importance of being patient and empathetic when communicating and working with these demographics.

If you have any questions about how design can have a positive impact on dementia and intellectual disability contact: kanvar.Nayer2@monashcollege.edu.au or Ilianna.ginnis@monash.edu.