SIS Seminar Series: Smart Mobile Devices: A New Direction for Augmentative and Alternative Communication?

Event Date:
Mon, 2011-11-21 12:30 – 14:00
Location: 3661 Peel, McGill University : Rm 106, SIS Building

Language plays an important role in our lives: it helps us express our feelings, communicate ideas and information, and build relationships. Most of us accomplish these tasks with ease; however, for those with a communication impairment such as aphasia, expressing a thought can be a difficult and frustrating task. Though a number of computerized devices have been developed to help those with speech and language difficulties, these devices have not been well adopted. In this talk, I will present findings from two research projects aimed at improving communication technology for individuals with aphasia. In the first, we used a survey and a series of focus groups, to gain clinician perspectives on why current aids are not being adopted. From these findings, we identified opportunities for improving design. In the second, we developed a novel communication aid that leverages the location-sensing capabilities of smartphones to better predict the user’s communication needs and refine the support provided. A field trial of this device is currently underway. The talk will close with additional discussion of unmet needs and future directions for research.

Karyn Moffatt is an assistant professor in the School of Information Studies. Previous to joining McGill, she was a postdoctoral fellow with the University of Toronto Department of Computer Science, supported by NSERC and the CIHR-STIHR in Health Care, Technology, and Place. Her research explores the ways in which technology can be employed to meet human needs and enable individuals to overcome everyday challenges and obstacles. She focuses this work primarily on the needs of older adults and individuals with disabilities. Karyn received her PhD in Computer Science in 2010 from the University of British Columbia, where she worked with Professor Joanna McGrenere on methods for increasing the accessibility of pen-based interaction for older adults.

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