Lewington, Amy E. (2009) An Investigation into Various Human-Computer Interfaces which may Enhance Communication for Students with Motor Impairments. In: Degrees of Independence: Providing inclusive learning in Higher Education, 16th - 17th April 2009, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK. (Unpublished)

Communication is vital for education, and investigations are to be made into various ways this is carried out in the context of a particular group of learners. A detailed literature review was carried out on various aspects of Cerebral Palsy, technologies, legislation, design and disability within education, identifying each of the difficulties experienced in the learning environment, such as using a standard mouse and keyboard. All media (sources of information) will be explored including journals, newspapers, text, and web sites. Ideas and methods were drawn from a review of concepts, technological improvements, and ICT equipment. However, as anticipated, the best and most reliable information came directly from the users.

Technology can aid communication and interaction with their peers. Research was undertaken into methods of communicating in various schools. Can technology be adapted to enable the disabled child to fit in with their classmates without seeming different? Attention was drawn to the fact that no two young people are identical, each has their individual needs. This does not necessary mean technology has to be different, everyone could benefit.

A small selection of technological devices was purchased, including speech recognition software, head mice and word predictors. This was in order to learn how to use them and identify their strengths and weaknesses. A small group of young people, both disabled and non-disabled tried a set of experimental trials designed specifically for this study. The results were automatically saved onto a database and analysed at a later date. Once analysed, the results were illustrated as graphical representations to investigate further developments into this project.

This research attempts to ease the issues of communication, enabling young people with disabilities the opportunity to communicate and interact at the same level as their peers, providing independence, without extra assistance from a support worker or LSA. The research is part of an MPhil dissertation and the current findings determine which device was most successful. The findings point towards first hand knowledge from users themselves to discover whether the devices purchased were effective in a way whereby, with improvements they could replace a standard mouse and keyboard.

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