Ilianna and Mary, a non-verbal communicator

Architecture & Access, Access Consultant Ilianna Ginnis continues to bring a unique perspective to the field of accessibility

Drawing inspiration from her sister, Ilianna’s PhD aims to fill the gap in design processes for people with complex communication needs.

In June, our access consultant, Ilianna Ginnis, is set to submit her PhD research after four years of dedicated work at Monash University’s Design Health Collab!

It is titled “ME in Mind: Developing Design Principles for the Inclusion of People who are Non-verbal Communicators with profound intellectual disabilities.”

Ilianna’s project focuses on addressing the needs of non-verbal communicators who have profound intellectual disabilities. Drawing inspiration from her sister Michelle, who communicates non-verbally, Ilianna’s research aims to fill the gap in design processes that often overlook the complex communication needs of this demographic.

Ilianna’s work has produced a comprehensive set of design principles designed to actively involve and engage non-verbal communicators in the design process and outcomes. These principles are crafted to assist built environment practitioners in adapting methodologies to better address the unique communication and participation requirements of non-verbal communicators.

Architecture & Access is fortunate to have Ilianna in the team, she brings a diverse lens to the field of accessibility by exploring sensory preferences, cognitive processing and communication rights to the assessment of the built environment.

Ilianna has contributed to a range of projects and workshops designed to build empathy in design as well as ensure people who are non-verbal with diverse cognition are heard. Ilianna says, “just because someone can’t speak, does not mean they do not have something to say” emphasising the need for the built environment to consider diverse neurological needs. The Monash University Design health Collab use a diverse range of design methods and work at multiple scales, including at a systems level, to address complexity and provide solutions for better patient experiences of healthcare and health outcomes in Australia and around the world.

Image: Ilianna and Mary, a non-verbal communicator with Rett Syndrome. Ilianna is engaging with Mary to understand her unique mode of communication through eye movements.

Architecture & Access


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