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The Aphasia Project: Designing Technology For and With People who have Aphasia

  • 20 May 2009
  • 7:00 PM
  • Bahen Room 1220 (main floor), 40 St. George St.
The Aphasia Project: Designing Technology For and With People who have Aphasia

DATE:      Wednesday May 20, 2009
TIME:      7:00pm registration; 7:10pm presentation; O'Grady's afterwards
LOCATION:  Bahen Room 1220 (main floor), 40 St. George St.
PRESENTER: Joanna McGrenere
COST:      Free for ToRCHI members and full-time students; $5 for guests; $20/year membership

The Aphasia Project is a relatively young multi-disciplinary research project that is investigating how handheld technology can be designed to support individuals with aphasia in their daily life. Aphasia is a cognitive disorder, usually acquired as a result of stroke, brain tumour, or other brain injury, that results in an impairment of language, affecting the production and/or comprehension of speech and/or written language. Most individuals with aphasia retain their comprehension of visual images, suggesting that multimedia technology may play a role in an assistive solution.

This talk will provide an overview of several of our projects to date, which include the Enhanced with Sound and Images Planner (ESI Planner), the File Facility, PhotoTalk, and the Visually Enhanced Recipe Application (VERA). I will highlight the research challenges in designing assistive technology for individuals with aphasia and our approaches to dealing with those challenges. One such approach has been to broaden the scope of the Aphasia Project to work with non-aphasic older users, and I will briefly describe recent work in that space.

Joanna McGrenere is an Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, where she co-leads the Imager Lab, which is an interdisciplinary group of researchers investigating human computer interaction, visualization, and graphics. Joanna’s research interests are predominantly in human computer interaction and span adaptable/adaptive interface designs for complex computer software, assistive technology, and computer supported cooperative work. She earned a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Toronto in 2002. While doing her PhD, she concurrently spent time at the IBM Toronto Lab's Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS), first as an intern and subsequently as an IBM CAS Fellowship Student. Joanna is currently a Visiting Scientist at IBM CAS (2003-present). Joanna is the first recipient of the Anita Borg Early Career Scholar Award (2004), awarded for significant research contributions, in part for her leadership of the Aphasia Project, as well as for outreach to women. Her early prominence in the Canadian HCI community is also illustrated by her involvement in NECTAR (Network for Effective Collaboration Technologies through Advanced Research), an NSERC research network (2004-present).

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