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Introduction to assistive technology

What is Assistive Technology?

Technology which has been adapted or created specifically to suit the lives of those suffering from disabilities This includes technological devices for vision, hearing, mobility and orthopaedic impairments Technology is required for many reasons including increasing overall independence and preventing restrictions
Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

How can Design cause problems?

It has been argued that Technology and disability are interrelated Technology for technologies sake can be debilitating and disempowering. (Manderville 1995) Designer takes into consideration Stakeholders, Carers and Budget as well as the target demographic often altering the technologies performance Technology can end up being disempowering if it is not suitable or reliable and fails to carry out the tasks it was originally intended to perform

Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

Focusing on the Target Demographic

Focusing on the target demographic is the key to getting the design of assistive technology right however;
Limited to what can be found out via; - Market Research - Questions - Working alongside those who will use it Disabilities are often perceived as a sensitive subject making certain information unattainable Difficult for a designer to understand disabilities if they have had no experience of it themselves

Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

Gaining an Understanding through gameplay

To create better assistive technology a designer must have a deeper understanding of the problems at hand
Gain understanding through the use of gameplay Provides a way of approaching sensitive subjects Virtual Environment provide a series of challenges reminiscent of everyday problems faced by those with various disabilities Avatar being placed in the role of a disabled character can create a powerful experience Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010
For me, playing as the disabled pilot Joker in an unexpected mission in Mass Effect 2 created a powerful gameplay experience

Initial Aims of the Project

Recreate a real life environment in order to highlight problems of accessibility Implement my own 3D character and scripting However... Legal implications of replicating an existing, well known environment Time restraints meant that I had to cut parts of my project such as my own character
Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

Project Aims: Revised

After assessing the feasibility of the project my new aim covers the following:
Build a realistic but fictional urban environment
Present a number of environmental challenges

Implement a third person, over the shoulder camera Edit the speed / mobility of an existing character Ultimately, highlight the everyday challenges faced by those suffering from mobility problems

Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

How did I DO THIS?

Before starting my project I had to select the correct tools for the job:
Originally planned on using the Unreal 3 Editor However, I would have to create a total conversion mod to implement any gameplay Source SDK: Hammer World Editor provided me with another option Specialises in Urban environments so complemented my ideas Left 4 Dead Authoring Tools provided me with the opportunity to implement much needed gameplay

Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

Development Process
The following process was used to develop my project:
Mapped out level in Adobe Illustrator
floor plans, environmental hazards etc

Translated Maps into simple geometry

corridors and buildings

Began Fleshing out environment by implementing static models, physics props, overlays and textures Edited the Navigation paths on map and tweaked AI

Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

The finished piece

Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

Project Problems
Learning an entirely new piece of software from scratch Unable to finish what I originally intended, including the creation of my own character I had originally planned on contacting numerous people suffering from mobility impairments alongside project to gain feedback

My headless character still remains unfinished and headless...

Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

Project Problems
incorporating traditional gameplay and level design

My background in Games Design began to make me aware of the following things:

Ammo and health placement Breaking up the gameplay pace Implementing changes in scenery to create a fresh feeling AI placement and behaviour Project changed considerably as it became further developed
Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010

Interesting experience but I would do it very differently next time...
Purely experimental concept into whether simulated environments could be used to help design assistive technology It was difficult to complete it how I had originally intended Environment to explore with no additional enemy threats Could potentially be used as a tool for designing Smart Homes

Meg Rouncefield MA Creative Technology 2010