On accessible Visual Programming Tools for children with Autism Spectrum Condition and additional learning disabilities

Zubair, M.S. ORCID: 0000-0001-7604-0592, 2020. On accessible Visual Programming Tools for children with Autism Spectrum Condition and additional learning disabilities. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Visual Programming Tools (VPTs) provide a visual programming and execution environment, in addition to other visual resources and tools appropriate for creating visual programs for a particular domain. Several VPTs have been created for teaching children to program at an early age. Research on the use of these tools to teach programming, academic and non-academic skills has reported positive results. However, children with learning disabilities including those also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) are left out of research in this area. Therefore, this research aims to contribute to existing knowledge in this area by exploring the accessibility of existing VPTs for this group of users and creating design tools and recommendations for the design of accessible VPTs for this target group.

This research began with the evaluation of the accessibility of the most popular VPT, Scratch. A user evaluation was conducted with seven children with learning disabilities, five of them were also diagnosed with ASC; three special education needs teachers were also interviewed as part of the evaluation. Analysis of the findings from this evaluation showed that the children faced several difficulties while using Scratch to create stories; and also identified the causes of the difficulties. Accessibility heuristics were derived from the identified 'causes of difficulties' and were used to evaluate the accessibility of three additional VPTs. The findings of this second evaluation showed that the assessed VPTs have features similar to those of Scratch that caused accessibility difficulties to the target group.

In creating tools and recommendations for designing accessible VPTs, the research focused on children with ASC (with learning disabilities) due to the match between their reported preferences and the features of VPTs. A method of creating personae to represent their requirements and goals was created and used to create three data-grounded personae. Experts were then interviewed to propose a set of recommendations for designing accessible VPTs for the target group.

Therefore, this research contributed methods for conducting accessibility evaluation of VPTs for children with learning disabilities and for creating personae for children with ASC; a theoretical model for the use of VPTs by children with learning disabilities in a class setting to achieve a learning goal; findings on the accessibility of existing VPTs for children with learning disabilities; and recommendations for designing accessible VPTs for children with ASC.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Zubair, M.S.
Date: January 2020
Rights: The copyright in this work is held by the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the author.
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 18 Nov 2021 13:44
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2021 13:44
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/44875

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