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The Aphasia Project: Designing Technology for and with People who have Aphasia

Date and Time
Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
Joanna McGrenere, from University of British Columbia
Maria Klawe
The Human Computer Interaction community recognized long ago that it should play a role in the design, implementation and evaluation of technology for users with cognitive disabilities. While there are some significant challenges to working with users who have cognitive disabilities, there has never been a more opportune time to embrace those challenges. Advances in computer technology, including the prevalence of low-cost handheld multimedia devices, combined with the increasing likelihood that individuals with acquired cognitive disabilities where computer-literate prior to acquiring the disability, suggest new opportunites for assistive technology to support these individuals in their daily activities.

The Aphasia Project is an exciting new multi-disciplinary research project operating out of the University of British Columbia and Princeton University. Our goal is to investigate how technology can be designed to support individuals with aphasia in their daily life. Aphasia is a cognitive disorder, usually acquired as a result of a stroke, brain tumor, or other brain injury, that result in an impairment of langage, affecting the production and/or comprehension of speech and/or written language. Most individuals with aphasia retain their comprehension of visual images, suggesting that multimedia technology may plan a role in an assistive solution.

This talk will explore a number of research challenges in the design of assistive technology for individuals with aphasia. Key challenges include achieving effective design and evaluation for a user population with extremely high degree of variance, and creating appropriate multi- disciplinary teams to carry out the research. We will describe our initial approaches to dealing with these challenges and some early research findings.

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