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New social and tangible interfaces for people with cognitive impairments and complex communication needs

Study level

Master of Philosophy

Honours

Vacation research experience scheme

Faculty/Lead unit

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Supervisors

Professor Margot Brereton
Position
Professor Eng. & Interaction Design
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Laurianne Sitbon
Position
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Alessandro Soro
Position
Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

Overview

People with cognitive impairments often have difficulty participating in society, due to difficulties in digesting new or complex information and learning. This affects their ability to socialise, participate in work, and to use information technologies. However, they stand to benefit greatly from new forms of information and social technologies that accommodate their needs. This area of the market for IT is greatly overlooked and yet technologies that work for people with cognitive impairments have potential to be groundbreaking technologies that are more inclusive and that everybody wants to use. This project undertakes a co-design approach to develop new social and tangible interfaces for people with cognitive impairments and complex communication needs.

Many people with cognitive impairments often do not fit a neatly labeled diagnostic category, often having a combination of underlying cognitive, communicative, motor and sensory conditions. As such, they are overlooked in the design of new technologies. However, common approaches are used to engage with people with complex communication needs across the disability support sector. For example, instead of using long complex sentences information is offered in small pieces, interactively and with visual support. And, interaction is tailored to the individual.

We have a longstanding collaboration with Endeavour Foundation, working together to design new forms of information and social technologies that meet the needs of their clients.

This project is offered to students at VRES, honours, Masters or PhD levels. Depending upon the level of study the objectives are to research and develop:

  • A practical system that supports a person with complex communication needs to participate in some way. (VRES, honours, Masters, PhD)
  • Effective methods for co-design with people with complex communication needs (VRES, Honours, Masters, PhD)
  • A theoretical contribution to understanding human-computer interaction in this domain in addition to methodological and design contributions (PhD)

Research activities

Research will involve:

  • Human-centred research, utilising methods from ethnography, digital ethnography, co-design and video interaction analysis. Methods need to be worked out for the particular context ( with supervisor guidance)
  • Software development skills in order to build Internet of Things prototypes that connect people to nature and each other.
  • Interaction design and games design.
  • An interest in and respect for people with cognitive impairments and a desire to support them to meet their aspirations.

Outcomes

Depending upon the level of study the objectives are to research and develop:

  1. A practical system that supports a person with complex communication needs to participate in some way.  (VRES, honours, Masters, PhD)
  2. Effective methods for co-design with people with complex communication needs (VRES, Honours, Masters, PhD)
  3. A theoretical contribution to understanding human-computer interaction in this domain in addition to methodological and design contributions (PhD)

Skills and experience

A variety of skills are needed to conduct this project, some of which you may learn as you undertake research. Deep curiosity is a pre-requisite. It is not necessary to have all of the skills below. Some, you may learn and others may come from other members of our research team.

  • Human-centred research, utilising methods from ethnography, digital ethnography, co-design and video interaction analysis.
  • Software development skills in order to build Internet of Things prototypes that connect people to nature and each other.
  • Interaction design and games design.
  • An interest in and respect for people with cognitive impairments and a desire to support them to meet their aspirations.

Scholarships

You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round

Keywords

Contact

Contact the supervisor for more information.