Presentation I: Before holidays

Here is the presentation I gave thursday 16 December:

Feedback I received:

  • More pictures of examples on Facebook where the persons with a mental disability have problems with: For example the top navigation bar: Home – Profile – Account => Really sober
  • Contact the Facebook accessibility team
  • Free more time for the last evaluation of the implemented part I application
  • Number the slides

Other presentations:

  • One of the most interesting presentations in my opinion was the one about Augmented Reality by Niels Buekers. I really think this is an interesting topic and has something futuristic. If this would actually come out in real life I would were glasses even though I don’t need them! The only remark I have on the presentation was that it would have been nice to see some pictures but I understand this is harder then for other topics.
  • The presentation of Michaël Vanderheeren was also very nice. It was really structured and the goals were clear and came from logical conclusions.

Of course the other topics were also interesting, but personally for me the two above really sticked. One because of the topic and the other just because of the great work already done. This proofs how useful those presentations were. The blogs gave some explanation but it was all a bit vague. Thanks to the presentation we all have a better idea now on were the other students stand, feedback on your work,…

Field research: Interview

Monday 11 October 2010 I interviewed Ann De Leersnijder (teacher for students with social and emotional problems) and Peter Bauwens (ICT teacher) at “De Sprankel” in Mechelen. This is a school for people with mental disabilities.

The interview was really interesting because this is one of the very few schools that already use ICT tools for people with disabilities. Not yet in the classroom though, they have ICT-lessons were they use those tools. For example they use Sprint which is a text-to-speech program normally used by people with dyslexia but this is also very useful for those with a mental disability. They pointed out that this isn’t the ideal way though. Sprint is not designed to be used by people with a mental disability but solely for people with dyslexia. The problem is that there is just no alternative… There are so much opportunities in this field which could help the people with a mental disability a lot and allow them to have a higher life standard.

They also use Wai-Not, this is sort of a private social network were the students can chat and send e-mails to each other. This is specially made for people with mental disabilities and uses betaprents. This are pictograms so that the ones that can’t read can transform sentences into pictograms. Peter pointed out that too badly the other way around is not implemented (I showed them Proloquo2go and that is exactly what they want Wai-Not to implement). It also has auditive support so the students can let it speak everything out loud. The problem with it is that it is really limited. Sometimes the students just want to let one word or sentence be spoken out loud and that is not possible. It also does not show which word where in the text is spoken while this is something that stimulates and improves their reading capacities. The other big problem is that this is a private network so yes it is secure and avoids abuse but on the other hand they are again separated from other people without a mental disability… Having a mental disability does not mean you can not have friends without one! I mentioned that it could be possible to use the api of for example Facebook to make a simple, safe application for Facebook with tools for people with a mental disability so they can also be socially active. They responded that if something like that existed the world would open for a lot of people with a mental disability.

So what I can conclude from this interview is how important text-to-speech software is for people with a mental disability. This allows them to do a lot more. It is not that they can not understand things or process information. It is just that they do it differently and therefore perhaps slower but they may not be underestimated and too badly this happens too much…