User Centred Design is accepted as being essential to good software design, only by involving the users throughout the development process can the developers understand what the end users really want (Sharp et al., 2007). One area which has in the past had little experience of User Centred Design is Assistive Technology, and in particular Augmentative and Alternative Communication software (Waller et al., 2005a). Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) offer the possibility of being able to access communication for people with Severe Speech and Physical Impairments.This thesis describes a software development study which investigated methods currently used in software development and how they could be adapted for use with this population. The way difficulties cited in the literature when working with this population were tackled are also discussed. The study involved four adults with Severe Speech and Physical Impairments in the User Centred Development of a piece of assistive software.The study found that with careful planning it was possible to conduct User Centred Design with participants with Severe Speech and Physical Impairments, the lessons from this study were translated into recommendations and provided to a second developer who wished to work with adults with Severe Speech and Physical Impairments. The second study found similar levels of contribution to the features of the software were found in the pilot study. This work has demonstrated the potential for adults with Severe Speech and Physical Impairments to be actively involved (i.e. contribute a high proportion of the features) in the development of Augmentative and Alternative Communication software. A number of areas for further investigation have been identified including the differences found in usability of devices developed using User Centred Design compared to traditional methods, and also how adults with Severe Speech and Physical Impairments can be more actively included in a range of research fields.
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication
- User centred design
- Human computer interaction