Invited Paper, 2010 Human Service Information Technology Applications (HUSITA 9),
in 2010 Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development: The Agenda
(SWSD 2010), Hong Kong, p. 347 (2010)

I Phone, Therefore I Can:
the Use of iPhones as Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices
to Facilitate Social Inclusion of People with Autism Spectrum Disorders

T.H. Tse 1 , C.C. Ko 2 , Joseph Leung 2 , and Ray Liang 2

[presentation slides]


People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) exhibit significant impairments in social communication and interaction skills. Their interests are restricted and their activities are repetitive. Augmentative and alternative communication aids are required. In addition, people with ASD tend to be visual learners. A picture to them is better than a thousand words. Visual strategies and video modelling are popular training methods. A personalized communication book designed using the picture exchange communication system helps to train the clients to interact with other people. Videos are commonly used in facilitating clients to acquire daily living or vocational skills. A major drawback of these visual cues or video demonstrations is that they are not normally available to clients outside the training venue. Even if they can bring their communication books to the real world, this phenomenon may be stigmatized as child-like and does not help to gain social acceptance and dignity.

We propose the use of iPhones to facilitate the social inclusion of people with ASD. iPhones are a social trend and, therefore, have exactly the opposite effect of stigmatization. Currently, assistive software in the market, such as Proloquo2Go and iPrompts, is designed with specific applications or specific classes of clients. We aim at a customer-focused approach to fulfill the needs of our clients. A communication book may be personalized for the iPhone of every client. The simple finger-touch interfaces of iPhones boosts the usability even for clients with poor hand control. Video software enables the clients to revise what they learn anywhere and at any time. The scheduling function may remind clients of important events such as the taking of medicine. Clients can use the GPS function to identify routes to their destinations, which will enhance their independence in community living. Caretakers may also use the GPS function to locate a strayed client.

1. Department of Computer Science, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.
2. SAHK, Hong Kong.


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