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Virtual communication- and learning environments for people with communication disorders
Over the last 5 years The Institute of Language, Speech and Brain Disorder, Region Nordjylland and AAU have had practical experiences and made research on rehabilitation of people with aphasia, facilitated in a virtual communication- and learning environment (www.ata.dk). The idea is to integrate functions such as email, assignments and communication forums in an easily accessible, flexible and individually tailored user interface, and to create a virtual community where people with aphasia learn through interaction and communication with a speech therapist and peers.
Our findings are that the virtual environment offers possibilities in addition to the formalized face- to-face teaching as it provides many options of communication e.g. being able to communicate and learn via various forms of perception, being able to use preferred learning- and communication strategies, meeting people of the same standing, opportunity for self-reflection and self-presentation via profiles and weblogs. The virtual learning environment offers people with aphasia new ways to develop their communication and options available for actions. The virtual linguistic possibilities can replace parts of the lost communication ability. The driving force in the rehabilitation process is the possibility to assert oneself communicatively and participate in communities.
The new social media offer great opportunities for a group of participants who potentially are marginalized in the communication- and learning society - both in the rehabilitation of people with aphasia disorders and in the broader sense of personal and social mastering. People with severe expressive and impressive communication disorders due to diseases like aphasia, Alzheimer, Parkinson etc., are increasingly being isolated from participating in the social activities and networks that take place through modern communicative services such as text messaging, internet portals, public administration digital services and social networking sites like Facebook and net dating. Due to their layout and complexity, these existing services are currently not available to the mentioned target group.
Based on the acquired experiences The Institute of Language, Speech and Brain Disorder, Region Nordjylland, C-innovation and AAU are now applying for funding for a new project at AAL. The aim is to give people with communication disorders better opportunities in terms of interpersonal- and Internet communication, and thereby increase their social interaction, personal networks, and level of self dependency and ultimately improve their quality of life.
Emneord: Virtual, Learning, Aphasia, Communities