Interaction between multiply disabled children and the computer

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    The project was carried out to study the interaction between multiply disabled children and computer and to evaluate the effects of technical aids on the social competence. The project has been carried out at the Medical Engineering Laboratory of the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), Tampere University Hospital, and Liisanpuisto school for children with motor impairement. Among the contributors of the study were also kindergarten personnel as well as several children's therapists and school teachers. The project was divided into two phases. The subjects of the first phase were 21 and of the second phase 8 multiply disabled children. They all had problems with communication in the field of mobility or speech. For each child a computer and its input and output devices were constructed. The interaction between the computer and a child was evaluated in the children's living environments (e.g. home, school), with the help of video recording. Interaction was analysed in three levels. The project was started in 1989 and covered a 4-year period. Computer aided rehabilitation and technical aids increased the disabled children's social competence. The study revealed the importance of computer based communication aids, which increased mobility even more than actual mobility aids. Individual differences between the children were large. For some children and certain disabilities technical aids gave excellent results, but the situation was not the same with every child. The study defined different interaction elements of the multiply disabled children's user interface. The physical and social environments of the computer were larger than the disabled person's usual living environment. Computer is an aid to go to new places and get new friends. Because of the children's limited motor abilities the interaction was slow, from which the communication suffered most. Severely disabled children needed an assistant person at the interaction. Interaction included also many counteractions and mistakes as well as successes, which indicate that the interaction is going well or that there is a need for some changes. For many children the goals of the interaction were many years behind their age. To avoid this, computer aided rehabilitation should be started as early as possible, i.e. several years before school-age. The results of the interaction were implemented as computer aided rehabilitation aids. New programs and devices were designed. Additionally the study revealed many new areas for computer aided rehabilitation aids.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages124
    ISBN (Print)951-38-4403-x
    Publication statusPublished - 1994
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Publications


    • computers
    • microcomputers
    • computer programs
    • computer programming
    • children
    • computer interfaces
    • handicapped persons
    • technical aids
    • interaction
    • models
    • simulation
    • communication equipment
    • speech
    • mobility
    • evaluation
    • video tapes
    • social communication
    • environments
    • comparison
    • rehabilitation


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