ACES: Promoting empathy towards aphasia through language distortion emulation software

Joshua Hailpern, Marina Danilevsky, Andrew Harris, Karrie Karahalios, Gary Dell, Julie Hengst

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Individuals with aphasia, an acquired communication disorder, constantly struggle against a world that does not understand them. This lack of empathy and understanding negatively impacts their quality of life. While aphasic individuals may appear to have lost cognitive functioning, their impairment relates to receptive and expressive language, not to thinking processes. We introduce a novel system and model, Aphasia Characteristics Emulation Software (ACES), enabling users (e.g., caregivers, speech therapists and family) to experience, firsthand, the communication-distorting effects of aphasia. By allowing neurologically typical individuals to "walk in another's shoes," we aim to increase patience, awareness and understanding. ACES was grounded in the communication science and psychological literature, and informed by an initial pilot study. Results from an evaluation of 64 participants indicate that ACES provides a rich experience that increases understanding and empathy for aphasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2011 - 29th Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Conference Proceedings and Extended Abstracts
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781450302289
StatePublished - 2011

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


  • Aphasia
  • Assistive technology
  • Disabilities
  • Empathy
  • Emulation software
  • Language
  • Speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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