A Participatory Design Process of a Robotic Tutor of Assistive Sign Language for Children with Autism

Minja Axelsson, Mattia Racca, Daryl Weir, Ville Kyrki

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Abstract

We present the participatory design process of a robotic tutor of assistive sign language for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Robots have been used in autism therapy, and to teach sign language to neurotypical children. The application of teaching assistive sign language - the most common form of assistive and augmentative communication used by people with ASD - is novel. The robot's function is to prompt children to imitate the assistive signs that it performs. The robot was therefore co-designed to appeal to children with ASD, taking into account the characteristics of ASD during the design process: impaired language and communication, impaired social behavior, and narrow flexibility in daily activities. To accommodate these characteristics, a multidisciplinary team defined design guidelines specific to robots for children with ASD, which were followed in the participatory design process. With a pilot study where the robot prompted children to imitate nine assistive signs, we found support for the effectiveness of the design. The children successfully imitated the robot and kept their focus on it, as measured by their eye gaze. Children and their companions reported positive experiences with the robot, and companions evaluated it as potentially useful, suggesting that robotic devices could be used to teach assistive sign language to children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, RO-MAN 2019
PublisherIEEE
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781728126227
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventIEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication - New Delhi, India
Duration: 14 Oct 201918 Oct 2019
Conference number: 28

Conference

ConferenceIEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication
Abbreviated titleRO-MAN
CountryIndia
CityNew Delhi
Period14/10/201918/10/2019

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    Axelsson, M., Racca, M., Weir, D., & Kyrki, V. (2019). A Participatory Design Process of a Robotic Tutor of Assistive Sign Language for Children with Autism. In Proceedings of the 28th IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, RO-MAN 2019 [8956309] IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/RO-MAN46459.2019.8956309