This exhibition focuses on four different learning disabilities: dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, and reading disorders, each accompanied by its own narrative. The participants first learn about a particular person’s struggles with a particular learning disability or disorder, then learn who that person is and the accomplishments they’ve made in their field.
Dan Meyers, Ana Tobin
There were several challenges with this project both logistically and conceptually. The first was figuring out how to accurately convey what it feels like to have different learning disabilities and disorders to neurotypical people.
The second challenge was figuring out how to create this project in a sensitive way that allowed participants to see that these were abilities rather than disabilities. Learning disabilities aren’t disabilities at all, they are just a different way of thinking. The third challenge was more logistical. This project was created during the height of the covid19 pandemic when classes were fully online and resulting in limited access to facilities, studios, and gallery spaces.
The goal of this exhibition was to show how design can promote empathy through the lens of learning disabilities while also empowering those with learning disabilities and illuminating how they feel.
To do this, simulations were created that mimic what it feels like to have a different learning disability or disorder and how to incorporate each unique learning method specific to that disability. The desire was to challenge participants to do a typical task but prohibited them from employing a conventional solution.
Design & Execution
The project began with concept and research. Most of the project was informed by the experiences of forty different people living with these disabilities and disorders.
Mixed modalities (digital and tactile) were used to reflect the concept that everyone learns in different ways. The goal was to make sure to make everything was accessible as possible.
Image of the full exhibition
Interactive Screen that starts the experience. Participants would select which learning disability or disorder they would like to learn more about.
Feel what it feels like to have Dyslexia. Participants slide the panels to read a paragraph of text about Dyslexia backwards to simulate how dyslexics must shift their perception.
Feel what it feels like to have a reading disorder. Participants use context clues in the text to replace layered words to simulate reading difficulties.
Feel what it feels like to have ADHD. Participants play a matching game with audio instructions that are obscured by other sounds to simulate distractions.
After experiencing what it feels like to have a learning disability participants use a common learning method used by someone with that learning disability. This ADHD tactic organizes mind maps.
Feel what it feels like to have Dyspraxia. Participants must write their name in string with their non dominate hand to simulate fine motor coordination issues.
Participants discover the gifts associated with each of the different learning disabilities or disorders