Professor Jane Marshall
Evaluating the effects of a virtual communication environment for people with aphasia
The Stroke Association
Aphasia is one of the most devastating consequences of stroke. While symptoms may be alleviated by speech and language therapy, many individuals are left with long term communication problems that profoundly affect their family, social and working lives. Experiences of isolation and social exclusion are common.
New online virtual technologies, such as Second Life, have exciting potential for people with aphasia. They offer a novel medium for developing verbal communication skills, and can simulate social contexts in which to practise those skills. They also have the potential to reduce social isolation, since they create opportunities for virtual encounters and may build confidence for real life ones.
This project aims to find out if involvement in a tailor made virtual environment benefits the communication skills of 20 people with aphasia and reduces feelings of social isolation. It will also explore ease of access to the environment and participants views about it.
The project will develop a therapeutic area within an existing virtual reality platform and will involve people with aphasia during this developmental phase. It will therefore generate additional insights about the needs of people with aphasia in accessing new forms of technology and about how to meet those needs.