A Touch of Happiness The value of design in touching people’s lives

Souyave, Jane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2464-8202 (2015) A Touch of Happiness The value of design in touching people’s lives. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston, UK. (Unpublished)

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This research project was developed from a visual communication inquiry for people with dementia. Interests lay in sensory graphics and how its application could provide a new valuable experience for an individual with dementia to enjoy. The group of symptoms that are associated with dementia include loss of memory, mood changes and communication problems with a decline in the ability to talk, read and write. Its debilitating effects appear to leave individuals with a poorer quality of life than before and less positive moments throughout their day (Alzheimer’s Society 2010).

There is a growing interest for improving quality of life and recent research reported findings that ‘there is no definitive consensus about exactly what quality of life is, what it means and therefore, how it might be measured or assessed’ (Warner, Milne and Peet 2010).

People with dementia may be at various stages but the condition does not appear to affect senses, individuals should still possess fundamental senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch (Wareing, Lesley 2000). The field of graphic design is well known for its visual language but also offers a wealth of opportunities for investigations using the language of touch, smell, sound and taste.

Sensory stimulation using aromatherapy and bright light therapy has had positive effects on people with dementia but studies on other types of sensory stimulation have not been conclusive (Alzheimer’s Society 2008).

More recently research has shown that positive emotional experiences can be triggered by showing happiness-inducing films and that the feeling of emotion can be endured and even persist beyond the event. (Feinstein J, Duff M, and Tranel D, 2010).

This study aims to explore the potential benefits and new opportunities that sensory graphics can present. Finding points of connection to build upon and breaking through the barriers to provide moments of happiness.

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