Launch of dementia carers’ handbook

Dementia Handbook

Last week saw the launch of the Berkshire Healthcare handbook for carers of people with dementia. The handbook is the product of a joint research project between Centre for Information Design Research and Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust to understand the information needs of carers of people with dementia and respond with an appropriately designed resource. Once the handbook itself has been launched our research will continue, to examine how it is used; and the complete process of initial research, design development and user feedback will be made public so that it can be used by other healthcare organisations, in the UK and elsewhere. The project has been commissioned by Berkshire West Confederation of Clinical Commissioning Groups as part of their response to the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge which was set up to encourage innovative approaches to dementia care.

Although there has been increased media coverage of dementia over recent years, it is still a poorly understood condition, and most people have no idea of the medical and social support services that are available to help someone with dementia stay independent. The handbook aims to fill gaps in people’s understanding and provide practical tools that will help family members and friends who are looking after someone who has dementia.

The handbook has been developed with the input of scores of carers, who have contributed to interviews about their experience, reviewed drafts of the handbook content and commented on design prototypes. Similarly, professionals from Berkshire Healthcare’s dementia services have also given their input, helping shape the handbook from the beginning of the project. Involving people who will use information resources in their development is standard practice at Centre for Information Design Research and the Cochrane Review has recently cited evidence for the effectiveness of health information that is developed with the input of its potential users.

The collaboration between CIDR and Berkshire Healthcare started with the development of a pain assessment questionnaire for carers to complete, to help doctors understand the pain symptoms of people with dementia who were admitted to hospital and to adjust their pain medication accordingly. This questionnaire has been trialed successfully at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and is now being presented at geriatric medicine conferences as an example of the positive impact of empowering dementia patients’ carers to contribute to the process of care.

Centre for Information Design Research is now carrying out a range of projects relating to health care, including tackling medicines waste, increasing the detection and treatment of acute kidney injury in hospitals and documenting assessments of patients’ capacity to make decisions about their treatment.

The Dementia handbook for carers has been designed as a paper resource, which is what research showed carers needed. The boxes of copies taken to the launch were snapped up, with comments from carers that it was just what they had been looking for.  But it can also be accessed on-line at

The Handbook has featured on Meridian TV, BBC Radio Berkshire and Jackfm.

A very special ATypI

Jan Tschichold's corrections

As students were settling into their Halls for Welcome Week and the start of the new academic year, Sunday marked the return of several members of the Typography family from the annual ATypI conference, a highlight in the calendar of international type professionals. Held in Barcelona’s impressive new Museu del Diseny by MBM Arquitectes the conference was especially significant for Typography: to celebrate the award of the Sir Mischa Black Medal to Michael Twyman, the Association invited him to deliver the Keynote lecture on the topic of  “Typography as a university study”. (The image above, of visuals marked up by Tschichold for a facsimile edition of Vespasiano’s 1572 writing manual, is from Michael’s collections – and seen by postgraduates who join his seminars.)

Forty years after the foundation of the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication (and a few more since the inception of the original course, in the late 1960s), Michael’s integration of history, theory and practice continues to define typographic education. These ideas have proven not only resilient, but prescient: graphic communication education worldwide is moving towards these ideas, holding Reading as a model for both new courses and institutions realigning their design studies.

Fiona Ross and Michael Twyman

(Above: Fiona Ross and Michael Twyman in Barcelona. Photos by Elena Veguillas)

Reading’s presence at the conference was notable. Eric Kindel and Gerard Unger delivered presentations, as did no less than ten MATD alumni, with two more taking part in panel sessions (Azza Alameddine, Nathalie Dumont, Paul Hunt, William Montrose, Toshi Omagari, Michele Patane, Dan Reynolds, Dan Rhatigan, Alice Savoie, Liron Lavi Turkenich; and Veronika Burian and Nadine Chahine respectively). Fiona Ross co-curated (with the regrettably absent Vaibhav Singh) the exhibition “Making news: type technologies in transition in newspapers across the world”. The selection of items from the Department’s Collections & Archives are a source of fascination and discussion by type designers, and reflect the growth of interest in global scripts.

Making News exhibition

Borna Izadpanah and Behdad Esfahbod reviewing the Urdu section of the exhibition.

ATypI president (and Reading alumnus) José Scaglione’s announcement that ATypI 2015 will take place in São Paulo, the first South American location for the Association, which will bring the conference closer to the substantial community of Brazilian alumni.

Web designers go for typefaces

slide from SmashingConf

Kicking off a busy week for Typography staff, Gerry Leonidas spoke to a full hall at Smashing Conference in Freiburg. The new talk focused on typefaces from a web designer’s perspective, and included key notions for evaluating typefaces. Web design professionals are increasingly interested in typography and typeface design, where the Department’s expertise has many contributions to make. By way of a reminder, Marko Dugonjić (amongst many other things, SmashingConf reporter on Twitter) noted:

Crossing Borders in Antwerp

typosium 2014

The ninth Typosium, organised by Initiaal, took place at the Museum Plantin Moretus in Antwerp on 30 August, with the theme Crossing Borders/Genze(n)loos. Our own Jo De Baerdemaeker, Fiona Ross and Gerard Unger were amongst the presenters. Gerard spoke about his Alverata project, a contemporary typeface drawing on romanesque sources and employing a wide range of historically-inspired alternate shapes. Fiona wand Jo conducted a Dialogue on type, looking at a range of projects for global scripts.  Pictures on Jan Van der Linden’s photostream.