A visual haptic system for children with learning disabilities: Software and hardware design considerations

Neeraja Subrahmaniyan, Swetha Krishnaswamy, Ashirwad Chowriappa, Ann Bisantz, Linda Shriber, Thenkurussi Kesavadas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has shown that children with learning disabilities exhibit considerable challenges with visual motor integration. While there are specialized Occupational Therapy interventions aimed at visual motor integration, computer games and virtual toys have now become increasingly popular, forming an integral part of children's learning and play. Technological advancements, especially in the field of Virtual Environment and Haptics, provide the opportunity to incorporate force feedback and multiple sensory modalities (visual, auditory, tactile and proprioceptive) into interactive games. This paper presents a preliminary qualitative evaluation of three iterations of haptic games designed to improve visual-motor integration in children with a spectrum of learning disabilities. Data was collected from ten children to evaluate - 1) the usability of the games, in terms of children's engagement, sustained interest and level of fun in playing the games, and 2) the compatibility of the system's hardware with Occupational Therapy standards. The results indicate that children enjoyed playing most games, demonstrated sustained interest and were not resistant to interacting with the technology. This result is promising and lends credence to the feasibility of implementing training interventions using Haptics. Lessons learned and recommendations for future design have been discussed both from the standpoint of interaction design and Occupational Therapy. The paper demonstrates the value of the multidisciplinary approach of combining both usability and occupation therapy evaluation methods to improve the software and hardware design of the haptic device.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-141
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Interactive Learning Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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