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What are Cognitive & Sensory Impairments?

Happiness is a matter of one’s most ordinary and everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self.
Iris Murdoch

Cognitive impairments affect people across a wide spectrum of disabilities from severe to less severe, these include; dementia, autism, down syndrome, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, dyscalculia. Clinical diagnosis alone offers little help when it comes to design, but when broken down into functional disabilities we begin to understand their impact. These functional disabilities may include problems with conceptualisation, memory, problem solving, reasoning, disorientation, judgment, attention, awareness, visual comprehension, reading/linguistic/verbal comprehension, and math comprehension.

I have also included sensory impairments; this is because many people who suffer cognitive impairments may also suffer from some sensory difficulties. It also takes into account our aging population and some of the difficulties they may encounter. It is worth noting that there are additional senses beyond the traditional five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch that are worth considering, these include, thermoception (heat/cold), equilibrioception (balance/gravity), proprioception and kinesthesia (joint motion and acceleration).

As discussed above the project covers a very wide subject, and for that reason I have chosen to predominately research dementia as an indicator for both cognitive and sensory impairments. Dementia is a disease that affects many of the cognitive functions in varying degrees of severity, whilst also targeting our ever-increasing aging population. All of the case studies (except for parts of Tor Nursing home) have been designed specifically for those with dementia, and highlight what I consider to be successful design considerations.

More detailed accounts of cognitive and sensory impairments will be discussed further in the PDF’s available to download from each section or collectively from the other information section of this website.