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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Interactive Design class develops iPad apps for Speech/Language Therapy

Last semester, students in Professor Natalie Stephenson’s Interactive Design class developed concepts for iPad apps to be used in speech and language therapy sessions with autistic children. The students’ design concepts targeted six specific children, from kindergarten to fifth grade, with different abilities and a range of interests. 
“Many existing apps were found to be too expensive or poorly designed for their intended users,” said Professor Stephenson. “In response, our students took a human-centered approach to design the new apps. The hope is to eventually provide well-designed and affordable apps that both speech language pathologists and parents can download, thus extending learning beyond the classroom and into the home environment.”
The app concepts are both educational and entertaining. For example, one student’s design involves a beagle named Scout who leads users on scavenger hunts to identify objects commonly found in the grocery store, at a playground, in a toy store and at home. Children learn the name of objects (receptive vocabulary) and see them in context while playing an entertaining game. Other concepts focus on developing social skills, expressive vocabulary and fine motor skills whileinteracting with playful characters like circus animals, dinosaurs and a goofy DJ.
After designing prototypes of their apps, the students pitched their ideas to a speech-language pathologist and iPad mentor from the Duval County School District. “I was blown away by the work they did on this project,” said Dawn Lechwar MS, CCC-SLP. “They were genuinely interested in our kids, which came through in their presentations. Their ideas were phenomenal. I would love to have all of their apps on our iPads.”
Several students are currently in the process of applying for grants to secure funding for development. Hopefully, a few of their apps will be available for download in the near future.
To see demos and overviews of all the apps, visit
Here are some screen shots from some of the apps!


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