Preliminary study of gaze toward humans in photographs by individuals with autism, down syndrome, or other intellectual disabilities: Implications for design of visual scene displays

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Abstract

Visual scene displays (VSDs) are a form of augmentative and alternative communication display in which language concepts are embedded into an image of a naturalistic event. VSDs are based on the theory that language learning occurs through interactions with other people, and recommendations for VSD design have emphasized using images of these events that include humans. However, many VSDs also include other items that could potentially be distracting. We examined gaze fixation in 18 school-aged participants with and without severe intellectual/developmental disabilities (i.e., individuals with typical development, autism, Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities) while they viewed photographs with human figures of various sizes and locations in the image, appearing alongside other interesting, and potentially distracting items. In all groups, the human figures attracted attention rapidly (within 1.5 seconds). The proportions of each participant's own fixation time spent on the human figures were similar across all groups, as were the proportions of total fixations made to the human figures. Although the findings are preliminary, this initial evidence supports the inclusion of humans in VSD images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-146
Number of pages17
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing

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