Inclusive design considers the needs of everyone. We consider the design decisions in the context of all abilities. It allows us to create adaptive solutions that cater to a wide range of abilities, rather than focusing on one narrow portion of the population. It is important because it embraces more people and helps support everyone’s ability, allowing anyone to participate. It enables and draws on the full range of human diversity.
For my empathy exercise I tried a simulation. This simulation consisted of a series of exercises that demonstrated the different ways that aphasia can manifest. It helped to understand what it would be like if you had a cognitive condition like a traumatic brain injury. Through this exercise I learned that aphasia is the loss of ability to understand or express speech. It helped me to understand what it might be like if I had aphasia. This was very eye opening and I believe that participating in a simulation yourself can change our attitudes as well as our knowledge.
Aphasia affects speaking, understanding speech, reading, and writing. The first simulation I did was Listening. During this I would listen to a word of paragraph being read to me and then I would have to figure out what was said or answer questions based on what was read to me. Right away I saw how difficult it was to understand what was being said as words were altered and some words were made incomprehensible. I was able to understand most of what was said but some things were still hard to figure out. I noticed that I was trying much harder to pay attention to what was being said then I would in my other conversations. It made me understand how hard it would be to comprehend conversations. At the end it gave some helpful tips on how to help people with listening comprehension like speak slowly, repeat key words, use gestures, and paraphrase. Here is some screenshots from my listening simulation:
The next simulation I did was reading. This simulation helped me to understand reading impairments. First I was given a misspelled word and would have to connect it with the picture it was describing. At first it was just slightly misspelled words but then it would give me a word like cow and show a picture of a horse or a cat. This showed that sometimes, the person with aphasia may think of a word related to the one that is seen. Rather than the actual word. This made me understand how reading can be difficult for people with a cognitive condition as I found it difficult to answer most of the questions myself. Then I was tasked with reading a paragraph in a relatively short amount of time and then answer the questions based on what I read. This was supposed to simulate the slowness in reading that can be part of aphasia. I found this to be a little frustrating because I think I am already a pretty slow reader, so I was not able to get very far in the paragraph which made it even harder to answer the questions. This gave me more empathy because I could see how difficult and frustrating it would be. Again, at the end of the simulation it provided helpful tips. Here are the screenshots from this simulation:
I then did the writing impairment simulation. This showed that “some people with aphasia may have trouble thinking of the word that they want to write, even though they know the meaning or message that they want to communicate.” For this simulation they showed a picture and I was tasked with writing what it was. What made it frustrating and showed you what it would be like to have aphasia was that what you thought you typed turned out not to be that at all. An example was that they would show a picture of a dog and when you typed it in it would change to cat. I was very confused at first and saw how frustrating it would be as I know it is a dog but every time I spelt dog it changed it to cat. Even in the longer sentence examples important words were taken away. It showed that even though you know it in your head you might not always be able to write those thoughts in the way you want too. Here is a few screenshots from that exercise:
The final exercise showed speaking Impairments and gave helpful communication tips in the end. During this simulation a picture was shown and you would click on the picture to hear how a person with aphasia might describe it. An example was a picture of a banana but when clicked it said apple. This helped to emphasize that people with aphasia know what they would like to say, but they have difficulty finding the words they need to communicate their message.
The biggest takeaway from this empathy exercise was understanding how individuals with a cognitive condition experience speaking, understanding speech, reading, and writing. It also helped me understand what we can do to make it easier when communicating with people that have aphasia by providing helpful tips. This exercise was important because personal experience helps us see things from someone else’s perspective. In the end I believe that these activities helped to increase my knowledge of aphasia and my empathy towards those who are living with aphasia.