THEORETICAL PERSEPECTIVE + GUIDANCE
Sensory and physical disabilities are more readily conceptualized then the needs of those with communicative or cognitive disabilities. The reason this is so, is that culturally valued cognitive and communicative acts are semiotically-mediated. Semiotic artifacts are cultural creations and as such were designed in some initial form. Those mediational means that have survived into present times
(e.g., writing systems, number systems) and have undergone evolution overtime to extend their usefulness or ease of learnability. Culturally prized forms of communication are mediated by semiotic artifacts. Thus, communication disabilities arise in part from the affordances and constraints inherent in the semiotic artifacts available within a culture. Spoken or written language as a privileged means of communication often leave a restricted, inefficient and awkward means of communication following a stroke, head injury or other neurologically significant event or disease process.
THE ROLE OF GRAPHIC DESIGN
The field of graphic design has historically taken multimodal composition as the subject of its investigations and the essence of its visual practice. Graphic designers, as masters of crafting persuasive multimodal compositions, have much to offer the disability-related professions.
The future of literacies are multimodal. The futures of disabilities are likewise multimodal. Careful consideration of both the enabling and disabling factors that come into play with multimodal compositions, provides an opportunity to mitigate the disabling effect of communication and cognitive impairment, in pursuing valued life activities through a design-oriented approach to intervention.