An Illustrated Book Looks at Dyslexia in a New Light
Based in Bangalore, India, Param Jain is a designer and illustrator, as well as the author of A Mind of Gold. The book, which is intended to help parents understand not only the challenges but also the beauty of dyslexia, began as a student project before earning Jain a place as a finalist in the Adobe Design Achievement Awards—and now it’s on its way to being published.
“It was a case where just a new logo wouldn’t help,” says Jain. “It was far larger than just a new business card or a new website.”
The second phase of the student project involved speaking with counselors, special educators, scientists, and mental health professionals, to better understand dyslexia and related conditions. “Along the way,” says Jain, “I realized that I was mildly dyslexic and had never been diagnosed.”
He continues, “Then I became very much interested in the role of parents in raising kids with dyslexia. I started looking at what was already available in terms of support and materials for parents out there…and there was a lot of practical advice, like ‘If your child isn’t doing well in school, get them extra tuition or get them tools like a reading ruler or colored markers.’ These things help with symptoms, but nothing was speaking clearly to what dyslexia is—and my research led me to believe that it could actually be a boon as well, that it need not be looked at negatively all the time.”
After deciding to create a book aimed at parents of children with dyslexia, Jain’s next challenge was figuring out how to structure the information and determine the perspective from which he would be speaking to parents. He explains, “I’m not a scientist or a neurosurgeon or an educator. But I realized that, a lot of the time when parents are made aware of this entire new world of learning differences and dyslexia, a problem is that things are framed very clinically…it’s a diagnosis, and it sounds tragic, with connotations of disease and suffering.”
Jain decided he could counter that with a book that used easily accessible language and a more upbeat tone. Jain says, “Dyslexia need not be grim.”
THE BEAUTY OF DYSLEXIA
A next step in creating A Mind of Gold, Jain says was figuring out the content, as well as the book’s tone and its look and feel. Jain says, “I couldn’t really assign a particular style to dyslexia, or represent dyslexia as looking a certain way, because dyslexia is different for every individual. So I decided against having a rigid visual theme and put content first. I also didn’t want a book that was too dense, so I broke down information so that every page is somewhat self-contained, kind of a poster in itself.”
Since Jain was chosen as a finalist, mentors from Adobe have been helping him to refine the book’s content—he has also been letting parents and educators review it, and sending copies to well-known people with dyslexia and asking if they might be interested in writing a foreword. Currently, Jain is talking to an agent and looking at several routes to publishing.
In the meantime, he’s been working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator—and is looking forward to going into a master’s degree program in September of this year.
All told, Jain has been working on this passion project for three years. And he says he has come to realize something through that process. He explains, “Basic things that sustain us, such as love, kindness, sensitivity, playfulness—there’s a danger in today’s world of overlooking those things. In working on this book, and talking to so many parents and educators about the importance of emotional intelligence, I want to use design to bring a focus to these issues.”
Learn more about Param Jain’s book A Mind of Gold, on Behance.
The Adobe Design Achievement Awards are a premier digital media competition for students and emerging creators. Entries are being accepted through June 21, 2019—learn more about how to submit.