UNT Research, Volume 18, 2009 Page: 41
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Eric Ligon produces children's books designed
to help sighted family members and friends learn Braille
as they read with children who are blind.
Jack Sprague, professor of communication design, has been
researching the creative methodologies of communication design
and advertising for more than 30 years as a teacher - with about
20 of those years at UNT.
"People look at the surface of design and advertising and say,
'Isn't that interesting or pretty?' or 'Isn't that cool packaging?' But
they don't understand the underlying process of how the concep-
tual idea, the message and visual solution of the campaign was
created - what went on behind the scenes and why this approach
was successful," Sprague says.
Sprague brings the research and conceptual skills he has
learned from monitoring the industry back to the "front line" -
the classroom, he says - as he teaches students the processes and
methods used in the visual language of communication.
"My job is to take the next generation of young people who
have interest in communication design and give them a wide array of
tools, methods and theories so they understand what they are doing,"
Sprague says. "It's a myth that creativity is a blank piece of paper
waiting for an idea to fall out of your head. If a person has intellect
and intelligence, these processes and methods can be taught."
Using design methods and technology to support different
learning styles is a key interest of Michele Wong Kung Fong, assis-
tant professor of communication design. Touch-screen technology,
for instance, is used in the materials she is creating for a program
in which students can take apart the components of the human
heart and put them back together on the computer screen. They
hear a buzz if they put the aorta in the wrong spot.
Her design research focuses on middle school students, but
the research could potentially extend to students with disabilities
and the elderly population, she says.
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Eric Ligon, associate professor of communication design,
was inspired by his son, Ethan, who is blind, to design books
that can be more easily read by blind and sighted readers together.
To produce the children's books, he co-founded the nonprofit
little Nutbrown Hare,
who was going to bed, held
on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare's
very long ears.
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Nu t b rown
t to Big
Nut b r own
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His design features the Braille words at the bottom of the
page and the printed words and illustrations at the top, so the
Braille reader's hands never cover the printed words. He hopes that
sighted parents, grandparents, siblings or friends can learn Braille
as they read with children who are blind.
"We've had a lot of positive responses from people saying,
'My kid loves this book and wants to read it every single night
before we go to bed,"' Ligon says. "That part has been really
The project illustrates the heart of what communication
designers are trying to do - change lives by getting to the roots
of design problems. The challenge isn't making Braille books for
kids, but creating books that educate people in their lives so they,
too, learn Braille, Ligon says.
"Designers have to listen intuitively to figure out what is the
real problem and the real solution." I
"We plan to facilitate projects that will instigate positive social, cultural
and economic change."
UNT RESEARCH SPRING 2009 } 44
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 18, 2009, periodical, 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115032/m1/41/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.