I am 63 years old with the reading age of a slow 4 year old. But I’m not stupid. I can tell that everything around me—the pictograms and ideograms, people’s faces, their clothes, the wonderful decorations on their pottery, the bright pinks, blues and oranges of their houses, the soil they work—is suffused with rich meanings which they read as easily as they breath, unaware of the great intelligence and skill they have in doing so. But I cannot do so. To me it is one vast terra incognito, beyond my ken. I am in Mexico City.

I am here after spending a week in the ancient and mysterious city of Cholula with my colleagues at Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Diseño (CEAD)—www.cead.org.mx—working on guidelines to help Mexican pharmaceutical companies redesign medicine labelling so that Mexicans literate in Spanish can read and use them appropriately.

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