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A Health Literacy Project

Health literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate decisions regarding their health.

A project about communication, health literacy and expression, it produced artwork and postcards that are informed by participants during creative workshops. Anam Beo have been interacting and communicating with people of different abilities since 2005 with over 14,136 workshop attendances and 2136 participants in the growing demographic of the over 55’s.

Artists Rowena Keaveny and Julie Spollen believe in arts accessibility and that a picture combined with type may counteract information overload, allow focus and elegantly tell a story. With support from the Community Foundation for Ireland, we asked in an inclusive and creative manner…

‘What is the best way to clearly communicate necessary information?’

Changing vision, information accessibility and readability for an ageing population; this project highlights the need for outreach materials, for seniors, adults with disabilities, caregivers and potential volunteers.

As a process driven project it allowed us, as facilitating artists to use our skills in the ongoing evaluation of older peoples health experiences. In both individual and group scenarios there was critical thinking and engagement in the visual communications potential outcomes. An artistic perspective highlighting the need for greater care and thought towards how important health information is relayed to older people.

Staff were also involved in the discussion about the power of good communication and inclusiveness in decision making. During the visual art sessions where, print making, stenciling, graffiti, portraits, painting, collage, the written word, reminiscence, music choice, dance and movement with participants allowed important discussions, critical thinking and expression. There were panel discussions, powerpoint presentations and slide shows about artist David Shrigley’s practice, artwork and communication skills.

This project also facilitated the artwork ‘Notions’ as part of the Bealtaine 2018 National Arts Festival for Older People, ‘Be Out Guest’ which Anam Beo both organised and curated ‘Solos & Notions’, an exhibit Offaly Public Participation Network supported.

The first, most obvious answer is that basic principles of good design and communication need to be followed. As an arts organisation we believe in accessibility to the arts and that a picture combined with type may counteract information overload and allow focus to elegantly tell a story more quickly.

Visual information with type should have

The additional specifics of designing for an older population’s eyesight limitations are driven by some of the following conditions:

1.Loss of Light; Advancing age causes the pupils to shrink, less light enters the eye, causing vision problems in low-light environments. These factors should inform design and construct signage in and on hospitals, museums, parks and public spaces, roads, airports, train stations; and how we design and format type in leaflets and brochures, direct mail, websites, online and email, and other electronic communications.

Health information can be particularly difficult to understand and act upon, even for the most capable person. There are some special considerations when developing written materials and visual aids for older people. Alterations to learning and memory may affect an older reader’s ability to absorb content, and the way information is presented may need to accommodate the cognitive and physical changes that often accompany old age.

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