ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

According to the most recent deaf literature, playing with digital games shows positive effects on deaf children's specific skills. The goal of this paper is to present the first guidelines for the design of games for deaf children. Our review of deaf literature, briefly sketched in the paper, considers such abilities as well as deaf children's preferences most relevant for the design of digital games for them. Literature findings are then used to compile the guidelines, with accompanying usage examples. Guidelines and literature findings are correlated at the end of this paper.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 5, Nos. 3/4, 2013 223
Copyright © 2013 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Designing games for deaf children: first guidelines
Tania Di Mascio
DISIM, University of L’Aquila,
Via G. Gronchi, 18 – I-67100 L’Aquila, Italy
Email: tania.dimascio@univaq.it
Rosella Gennari and Alessandra Melonio*
CS Faculty, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano,
Piazza Domenicani,
3 – I-39100 Bolzano, Italy
Email: gennari@inf.unibz.it
Email: alessandra.melonio@unibz.it
*Corresponding author
Pierpaolo Vittorini
MeSVA, University of L’Aquila,
Via S. Salvatore, I-67100 Coppito (AQ), Italy
Email: pierpaolo.vittorini@univaq.it
Abstract: According to the most recent deaf literature, playing with digital
games shows positive effects on deaf children’s specific skills. The goal of
this paper is to present the first guidelines for the design of games for deaf
children. Our review of deaf literature, briefly sketched in the paper, considers
such abilities as well as deaf children’s preferences most relevant for the
design of digital games for them. Literature findings are then used to compile
the guidelines, with accompanying usage examples. Guidelines and literature
findings are correlated at the end of this paper.
Keywords: deaf people; deaf literature; special needs; guidelines; heuristics;
design; evaluation; games; educational games.
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Di Mascio, T., Gennari, R.,
Melonio, A. and Vittorini, P. (2013) ‘Designing games for deaf children:
first guidelines’, Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 5, Nos. 3/4,
pp.223–239.
Biographical notes: Tania Di Mascio is an Assistant Professor at the
Information Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics (DISIM) of the
University of L’Aquila. She obtained a PhD degree at the DIEI of University of
L’Aquila, working on Human Computer Interaction. From 2006 to 2010, she
worked at different research institutes. Her primary research activities are in
HCI, user interfaces usability and accessibility, and TEL, with focus on
information visualisation and interaction paradigms. She is author or co-author
of more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals and international and national
conferences. She is in the Steering Committee of MIS4TEL and EBUTEL.
224 T. Di Mascio et al.
Rosella Gennari is a researcher at the Faculty of Computer Science in Bolzano.
She obtained a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Amsterdam, a
post-doc ERCIM fellowship at CWI, Amsterdam, in 2002, and 3-year post-doc
fellowship at FBK-irst, Trento, in 2002. At the beginning of her career, She
published in relevant venues in automated reasoning, working on modal logic
and constraint satisfaction. In the latest seven years, her research interests
moved towards mixing automated reasoning technologies and human computer
interaction methods, applying them to the design of accessible and usable
technology enhanced learning (TEL) artefacts, in particular, games, starting
from the real needs of users, such as deaf users.
Alessandra Melonio is a PhD student at the Computer Science Faculty of the
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. After her degree in Informatics And
Control Engineering at the University of L’Aquila (2011), she collaborated at
the TERENCE and DARE projects, working on human computer interaction
for TEL.
Pierpaolo Vittorini obtained a PhD degree in Computer Science at the
University of L’Aquila, and a master’s degree in management of health
systems. He is currently a researcher of the Department of Life, Health and
Environmental Sciences, and teaches applied computer science, medical
informatics, and information systems at the Faculty of Medicine. He has
published more than 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals and international and
national conferences. His research interests range from data models for
biomedical sciences, XML databases, sanitary information systems and expert
systems.
This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper entitled ‘How to
design games for deaf children: evidence-based guidelines’ presented at the
‘ebTEL 2013’, Salamanca, Spain, 22–24 May 2013.
1 Introduction
In recent years, research in information and communication technologies paid increasing
attention to the design of electronic tools (e-tools) for children. There is also a fair
amount of work devoted to guidelines for designing e-tools for children (see e.g.
Chiasson and Gutwin, 2005; Grammenos et al., 2000). Existing guidelines differentiate
children according to their age or gender, and not according to other cognitive
characteristics such as text comprehension skills, visual attention and memory abilities.
However, these and other skills turn out to be crucial for designing e-tools usable and
accessible for deaf individuals, according to deaf studies (see e.g. Marschark, 2000). For
instance, the reading skills of deaf people are lagging behind compared to those of their
hearing peers, whereas the visuo-perceptual skills of deaf people are generally regarded
as equal to those of their hearing peers, when not more developed. Such differences call
for guidelines for designing e-tools that are usable and accessible for deaf people, in
general, and deaf children, in particular.
Moreover, recent studies show positive correlations between deaf children’s
cognitive skills and playing digital games. For instance, deaf children’s improvement in
memory skills seems to be directly related to the number of games they play (Bosworth
and Dobkins, 2002; Marschark and Mayer, 1998). Playing action games was shown to
Guidelines for designing games for deaf children 225
enhance all aspects of attention in deaf children (Wallander et al., 2001). Given the
positive effects that digital games can have on deaf children and the need for guidelines
for designing e-tools for them, we set ourselves on the tack of compiling the first
guidelines for designing digital games that are usable and accessible for deaf children.
That is the focus of our paper.
This paper is divided into two parts. The first part is an overview of findings
concerning the characteristics and preferences of deaf people, and deaf children in
particular, relevant for designing digital games for them. More specifically, the second
section starts with an overview of field studies concerning relevant characteristics of deaf
children from the deaf literature. It then continues with recent findings of a European
project, TERENCE (TERENCE Consortium, 2013), that develops serious games for
children, hearing and deaf, and for which the authors of this paper worked. The
TERENCE team conducted field studies with hearing and deaf children, as well as
contextual inquiries with their teachers, parents and experts of deafness, and in so doing
the team learnt about characteristics and preferences of deaf children for digital games
that are not emerging from the deaf literature.
Having so laid the groundwork, the guidelines for the design of games for deaf
children unfold in the second part of the paper. The third section lists the guidelines, with
example applications, that result from abstracting on the findings overviewed in the first
part of the paper. The correlations between the guidelines and the findings are specified
in a dedicated section, the fourth one. This paper ends recapping the main lessons learnt
from the reported work and commenting on future work.
2 Characteristics and preferences of deaf children
We analyse what we know and we do not know from the literature about those
characteristics and preferences of deaf individuals that are relevant for designing usable
and accessible digital games for them.
Cognitive and behavioural characteristics of deaf children such as those necessary for
comprehending texts are investigated in a number of field studies in the deaf literature.
The major findings are reported in the first subsection below. Preferences and other
characteristics of children necessary for playing digital games, such as their sensitivity to
colours and illustration styles, were investigated in the running TERENCE project, and
are briefly reported in the second subsection below.
2.1 Deaf studies
2.1.1 Introduction
In this section, we divide and report the findings in the deaf literature according to the
main field of investigation: comprehension skills for texts; visual attention; focus and
social interaction skills; memory.
Text comprehension skills are investigated across many deaf studies, possibly
because the consequences of un-remediated low performances in reading tend to have a
wider negative impact, e.g., on the social inclusion of deaf individuals, motivations to
reading, performances in science curricula, usage of ICT tools and one’s self-esteem.
226 T. Di Mascio et al.
Visual processing and especially visual attention constitute another body of research,
spanning from attention to objects at the periphery of the visual field to its (re)orientation
from one target to another. Several deaf studies analyse the capabilities of deaf
individuals to maintain focused attention and to interact with others or the environment,
which is relevant, for instance, for deciding about the game genre and feedback. Finally,
we discuss memory skills of deaf children, relevant for our guidelines.
2.1.2 Text comprehension
The field of text comprehension is investigated by many deaf studies, also because
becoming a successful reader is “one of the most significant barriers to learning and
achievement for deaf young people throughout their school career and beyond into
employment” (Traxler, 2000; Trezek et al., 2010). Reading has been recognised as a key
concern in deaf education for over 30 years (Conrad, 1979), but despite research efforts
and changes in placement and language approaches we are still waiting for a significant
change in results (Easterbrooks, 2010; Hendar, 2009; Marschark et al., 2007).
Gibbs (1989) shows that deaf readers, like good hearing readers, use metacognitive
strategies to monitor and maintain comprehension, but are less accurate in their meta-
comprehension. This seems to also occur when a sign language is used, e.g. the studies
reported in Dye et al. (2008b) and Gibbs (1989) purport that deaf children learn as much
from reading as they do from signed instructions. The reasons of low performances in
text comprehension seem, thus, to be multiple, varying from phonological coding and
awareness to missing contextual knowledge, as we sketch below.
While hearing individuals read by converting printed letters into a phonological code
that feeds into their auditory language system, deaf individuals use an alternate pathway,
specific to reading, not used by hearing people.
Differences in visual processing in the deaf reader may result in different perceptual
processes involved in reading as compared to those of hearing readers (see Section 2.1.3
and Azbel, 2004). Reading involves using the centre of the visual field to fixate the word
for hearing children. Therefore, the fact that deaf children pay more attention to items in
the periphery could partially cause confusion in the identification of letters and words
(Banks et al., 1990).
In addition, deaf children tend to remember less in short-memory tasks (see
Section 2.1.5 and Dye et al., 2008b) than their hearing peers. As shown in Campbell and
Wright (1990), word recall by deaf individuals seems poorer for long words than for
short words, as well as for abstract, ambiguous or unfamiliar words without surrounding
contextual clues. Moreover, terms and words that do not confuse the child should be
preferred, and attention should be paid to neighbouring words that influence where
readers fixate their attention (Wallander et al., 2001).
The vocabulary of deaf children is usually considerably restricted in comparison with
that of their hearing peers. For instance, a deaf student will not have heard many of the
words that fill the classrooms and lecture rooms around them (Briggle, 2004). Due to
their restricted vocabulary, their reading skills could be better when words have only a
single meaning or when they are presented in context rather than in isolation.
Whether it depends on memory, visual processing or other factors, deaf individuals
tend to have problems with comprehending a complex sentence, in particular, with
tapping local cohesion in texts (Di Mascio et al., 2012; Trezek et al., 2010). Moreover,
Guidelines for designing games for deaf children 227
deaf individuals tend to remember disconnected portions of texts rather than the whole
picture, especially when the material is unfamiliar (Dye et al., 2008a; Gibbs, 1989). In
that respect, they seem to benefit from self-paced reading windows, so that only small
chunks of locally coherent texts are available, one at a time.
2.1.3 Visual attention
Several studies purport that visual ability in the deaf may be altered as a result of
auditory deprivation. Deafness leads to changes not in all aspects of vision [e.g. there is
difference neither in basic visual motion processing (Bosworth and Dobkins, 2002a) nor
in the discrimination of shades of grey (Meadow, 1980)], but specifically in visual
attention and alteration of attentional abilities.
Visual attention is the ability to pay attention to and focus on items or things that are
relevant to current goals while ignoring distractions that are not pertinent. Different
studies examined the development of visual attention in different deaf subjects with
different ages and access to sound. Bavelier et al. (2006) found that deaf individuals are
better in certain aspects of visual perception, and specifically in allocating visual
attention to the periphery of the visual field. Other studies (Proksch and Bavelier, 2002)
show similar results, namely that deaf signers are more distracted by peripheral events
and hearing individuals are more distracted by central events (Proksch and Bavelier,
2002). Specific tests show that deaf signers are better at identifying the direction of
motion of stimuli at the edge of their visual field. Therefore, if the task requires them to
pay attention to the centre of the visual field and there are distracting stimuli at the edge
of the visual field, their performance is likely to be worse than for hearing subjects
(Bavelier et al., 2006). However, Todmann and Cowdy (1993) purport that their ability to
discriminate very small differences in direction of motion is altered and more deaf
subjects discriminated gross differences in direction as leftwards vs. rightwards.
Worth of attention is also the study by Bosworth and Dobkins (2002a), where they
report a fine-grained study concerning visual attention with hearing and deaf subjects.
They used a direction of motion discrimination task in the periphery for investigating
whether attention processes differ between deaf and hearing individuals. Their results are
as follows: deaf individuals are better than hearing individuals in orienting attention from
one location to another, and are more affected by the presence of distracters, i.e. they are
less good in selective attention, whereas no difference was found in divided attention, i.e.
the ability of processing multiple stimuli in the visual field.
Other studies differentiate deaf individuals by their age, and Grigonis and
Narkevičienė (2010) assert that young deaf children have more difficulties for visual
serial recall and take more time for recovering visual attention.
2.1.4 Focused attention and social interaction
A good deal of research investigations concerning the level of attention of deaf children
report that the majority of them have problems related to focusing their attention (see e.g.
Dye et al., 2008b). The problems of attention are demonstrated by means of tests like
UFOV (Ball et al., 1988; Dye et al., 2009), backed up also by subjective ratings
of teachers and parents. For instance, Meadow (1980) reports that few mothers declare
that they have problems in eliciting and maintaining eye gaze and joint attention
with their deaf children. Other studies have examined lower level visual skills
228 T. Di Mascio et al.
underpinning attention behaviour and the visuo-motor skills that may also influence
action coordination (Werner and Strauss, 1941; Myklebust and Brutten, 1953). In order
to get the attention of deaf children focused, calibrated feedback, e.g. vibration feedback
or motion, may be used (Chiasson and Gutwin, 2005).
Reivich and Rothrock (1972), Quittner et al. (1994) and Quittner et al. (2004)
reported that, according to teachers, deaf children tend to be more impulsive, easily
grumpy and lack inhibition, probably because deaf individuals have less chances
of learning social conventions than their peers. The analysis of the results of tests like
CPTs, reported in Reivich and Rothrock (1972) and Quittner et al. (1994), shows that
deaf children have problems in continuous performance tasks about vigilance, showing
that deaf children are more impulsive and suffer from increased distractibility.
It is then not surprising that one of the first research studies conducted by
Higginbotham and Baker (1981), and later confirmed by other researchers, concludes that
deaf children devote less time to cooperative activities and significantly more time to
solitary activities.
2.1.5 Memory
Memory is responsible for several game-related activities and is measured in different
manners. Short-term memory is the ability of holding a small amount of information in
mind in an active, readily available state for a short time. For instance, Macsweeney et al.
(1996) and Marschark (1997) analysed relations between the use of short-term memory,
memory codes and the reading ability of deaf children by means of tests on recall of
pictures. The results show that reading ability is closely linked to the overall short-tem
memory performances.
Short-term memory is generally considered lower for deaf subjects than for their
hearing peers. However, the variations of stimulus and response conditions result in deaf
individuals having better, equal or worse memory as compared to hearing subjects.
Memory strategies and particularly memory codes may influence deaf children’s recall
performances. Deaf people are accredited to rely more heavily on visuo-spatial short-
term memory codes. Marschark and Mayer (1998) found deficits in recall for linguistic
stimuli, printed words and pictures but not in recall of non-linguistic stimuli such as
unfamiliar faces and spatial arrays of lights. According to Todmann and Cowdy (1993)
and Todmann and Seedhouse (1994), deaf children surpassed hearing children in short-
term memory tasks for complex figures, except when the task involved serial recall. Deaf
individuals may be at a disadvantage on linguistic tasks that involve serial recall.
However, deaf people seem to be better in tasks that involve temporal order.
Contrary to short-term memory, long-term memory can store a seemingly unlimited
amount of information for a long time span. Studies such as Grigonis and Narkevičienė
(2010) on serial recall of deaf children in elementary schools show that deaf children did
not exhibit an advantage over hearing subjects in immediate recall task performances, but
the groups of deaf children performed worse in long-term storage of visual material –
deaf individuals used to forget more than hearing subjects.
Short-term memory is also different from working memory in that this refers to
structures and processes used for temporarily storing and manipulating data. Some, but
not all, deaf children have lower working-memory spans than hearing children (Nunes
et al., 2010). However, Marschark and Mayer (1998) administered question games and
Guidelines for designing games for deaf children 229
showed that deaf students with experience of playing games performed as well as hearing
peers, but, among the inexperienced participants, hearing children performed better than
deaf children. Children’s performances were directly related to the number of games they
play: the more games they play, the better their performance in working memory tasks
become when retested (Bosworth and Dobkins, 2002; Marschark and Mayer, 1998). This
means that deaf children’s working memory can improve by playing adequate games.
2.2 The TERENCE studies
2.2.1 Introduction
TERENCE is a collaborative project funded by the EC under the ICT Call 5 FP7- ICT-
2009-5 and that develops the first adaptive learning system with stories and reading
interventions in the form of smart games, all designed within a stimulation plan for
text comprehension. The system is meant to be accessible and usable by all children
in primary schools, in particular, hearing and deaf children that have deep text
comprehension problems. In particular, we concentrate on children in the age range of
seven to ten, when poor comprehenders tend to start lagging behind their peers at school.
Given such an aim, the TERENCE system is developed following the Evidence-
Based Design (EBD) and the User-Centred Design (UCD; see Slegers and Gennari,
2010). For producing a pedagogically effective system, EBD stresses the need for basing
the system design on empirical evidence, also gathered from domain experts, namely
diagnosis or stimulation plan experts for poor text comprehension or deaf children. For
producing a usable system, UCD places the users at the centre of the design process and
iteratively designs the system starting with the analysis of the context of use and revising
prototypes of the system through evaluation studies.
Within the TERENCE project, we conducted several field studies and contextual
inquiries, firstly, for analysing the context of use, and, secondly, for evaluating the
usability of prototypes of the TERENCE system. More specifically, we ran game-like
field studies with children, hearing and deaf, from UK and Italy. We also ran contextual
inquiries, such as diaries with parents and teachers, and structured interviews with
domain experts.
The studies for the context of use analysis involved 592 seven- to ten-year-olds
across UK and Italy, 70 of which were deaf. Usability studies involved 174 seven- to
16-year-olds, 38 of which were deaf. For more details on all such studies, we refer the
reader to Melonio (2013).
In the following, we report the main findings of the TERENCE studies, clustered in
the same fields we used for the deaf literature reported above.
2.2.2 Text comprehension
According to the TERENCE domain experts, deaf children’s problems with text
comprehension are concerned with tapping global coherence as well as local cohesion,
complex periods and, in particular, coreference. For some deaf individuals, decoding and
phonology can be problematic. That said, informative texts should use unambiguous and
familiar words or the surrounding words should help disambiguate the unknown word.
230 T. Di Mascio et al.
As for preferences, teachers say that deaf children seem to prefer reading short texts.
Deaf children say that they like adventure, fantasy or comics books with detailed and
colourful illustrations. In fact, teachers and parents confirm, if pictures or games are
used, the deaf child is more stimulated to perform reading tasks.
Deaf children tackle difficult reading tasks with the help of parents, older relatives or
teachers.
A comprehensive survey of the reading skills of deaf individuals is offered in the
conclusions to Slegers and Gennari (2010).
2.2.3 Focused attention and social interaction
According to domain experts and teachers alike, deaf children tend to have diminished
attention time – “after a bit they are bored”. The deaf child is distracted more easily and
should always be called to his/her attention with signs. When deaf children are reading
books, the teacher often has to recall the attention of the children and point to where they
were reading.
Deaf children are more alert to being treated differently, and suffer from it. For
instance, it often happens that teachers give deaf children that are older than eight stories
that are meant for a young child, due to the lack of textual material that is adequate to
their reading skills. This creates discomfort in the deaf child. In the case of older deaf
children, the more they are exposed to failure the more frustration-prone and irritable
they grow.
2.2.4 Memory
According to teachers, in agreement with domain experts, deaf children tend to better
recall images than texts alone compared to their hearing peers. In particular, since their
first impact is with the physical aspect of a person, they tend to remember this better.
Often, they refer to a person by signing physical characteristics of the person, e.g. the
curly girl.
2.2.5 Game devices, avatars and genres
The field studies with children in TERENCE gave valuable information for the design
of digital games for them, mainly concerning the attitude of deaf children towards
illustrated books and digital games, and their preferences.
In general, deaf children are very enthusiastic about using new technology, such as
tablets. They tend to use the computer mostly for playing and sometimes for research on
the internet or chatting with friends.
Deaf children generally prefer playing games with human-like avatars. More in
general, they tend to prefer
playing with mobile devices (e.g. Nintendo DS or tablets);
console games (when the age increases the use of non-photorealistic consoles
decreases and the use of photorealistic consoles increases);
games involving movement (they often refer to the usage of a balance board), action
games like Mario Kart and brain teasing games;
playing by themselves, alone and in the same place.
Guidelines for designing games for deaf children 231
Male deaf children are fairly sensitive to points and challenges: “it’s really great to get
high scores on challenging shooting games”. They also like sport games such as FIFA 12
and shooting or war games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Deaf children like adventure, fantasy or comics books with many vivid illustrations
and are more picky about and alert to discrepancies between a text and its illustration
than their hearing peers.
In general, they seem not to care about reading instructions; deaf children seem to
read them only if they appear before the start of the activity or in a dedicated portion of
the screen, without other distracters.
3 Guidelines
In this section, we compile the first guidelines for designing digital games that are
accessible and usable for deaf children, and that arise from the research in deafness
reported above. We cluster the guidelines into five main areas for the design of
digital games, according to the findings we have in the surveyed studies: words; other
characteristics and position of textual elements; choices and interaction; feedback; game
devices, avatars and genres.
3.1 Words
According to the literature review, unfamiliar or ambiguous words, without contextual
clues, are problematic for deaf children, and words that have not been specifically
introduced to the student cannot be easily lip-read (when the carrier language allows for
this) Moreover, if deaf readers have an alteration in their visual selective attention, they
could have problems in identifying the letters of a word and in creating representations
that preserve both the correct letters and their correct spatial arrangements. Therefore,
texts should prefer familiar and unambiguous words, paying attention to neighbouring
words that influence where the reader will fixate their attention [GL 3.1.1]. If unfamiliar,
ambiguous or abstract words are used, then their meaning should be easily inferred from
the surrounding context [GL 3.1.2].
GL 3.1.2 example
Wrong Correct
The rocket went to the asteroid.
The rocket landed on the asteroid that was
floating in space and was surrounded by
light stardust.
As explained in the above literature review, word length matters to the point that the
length of words for pictures may affect the serial recall of pictures. Therefore, words
should not be too long, in particular, for key information such as instructions [GL 3.1.3].
3.2 Other characteristics and position of text
Reading problems, attention and memory issues constrain how texts should be positioned
for playing games. This is particularly true for instructions for games.
232 T. Di Mascio et al.
Firstly, any key textual information, like instructions, should use short and simple
sentences, without complex or distant referential expressions [GL 3.2.1].
GL 3.2.1 example
Wrong Correct
Mathias and Lucas were the best friends of Ben
and Sophie […] One day Ben and Sophie visited
the biggest swimming pool in town with their
Mum and their best friends.
Mathias and Lucas were the best friends of
Ben and Sophie […] One day Ben and
Sophie visited the biggest swimming pool
in town with their Mum, Mathias and
Lucas.
Moreover, given the visual attention orienting and selective skills of deaf learners, games
should use visual clues or animations for directing the attention of the child on relevant
textual information [GL 3.2.2].
Deaf children may have problems with longer fixation and tend to have slower text
comprehension time. Several studies assert that signed instructions are not better
comprehended than written instructions. In general, it is better if limited amounts of
information are made available at one time. Therefore, relevant information such as
instructions should occur in a separate dedicated part of the screen, in small chunks
[GL 3.2.3]. Given the attentional abilities of deaf children, relevant information
should also come without other distracters if not for (re)orienting the attention towards
key points [GL 3.2.4].
3.3 Choices and interaction
According to the literature review of this paper on attention, young children have more
difficulties for serial recall and take more time for recovering attention. This means that
young children may need fewer choices in games [GL 3.3.1]. More in general, using the
same items in the same position and order in the interface should aid the recall of deaf
children [GL 3.3.2].
On the screen, there should not be distracting stimuli for the peripheral visual field
because deaf individuals are more distracted by peripheral events. On the edge of the
screen, the interface should have objects and motion stimuli that do not distract the
children from their main playing task [GL 3.3.3].
GL 3.3.3 example
Wrong Correct
Deaf children often fail to respond with gestures or signs when their eyes are attracted by
the objects in motion, due to their difficulty with divided attention. While hearing
children can listen and answer simultaneously within the game, deaf children must
interact with one task at a time. Therefore, the game should be composed of a single
interaction task or use a single communication channel at a time, e.g. the game should
propose reading and a visual task, such as moving or finding objects, at separate
moments [GL 3.3.4].
Guidelines for designing games for deaf children 233
3.4 Feedback
In general, children are impatient and need immediate feedback: they expect to see the
results of their actions immediately; if nothing happens after their input, children may
repeat their action until something does occur. In general, a child should not be left idle
in front of the screen for too long a time without any stimulus or feedback. This is
particularly true for deaf individuals. Deaf children have problems at focusing attention
for too long a time in a reading task or demanding playing activity. However, they seem
better than hearing ones in orienting spatial attention, especially at reorienting it. Deaf
subjects tend to discriminate gross differences in direction as leftwards vs. rightwards.
Therefore, games for deaf children could use vibration feedback or motion of objects for
(re)directing the attention [GL 3.4.1] of the deaf player towards specific targets, e.g. the
correct or wrong resolution of a game. However, one must be careful where to place the
animation on the screen because it might adversely affect their attention focus. Since deaf
children are more impulsive, the type and timing of feedback must be carefully calibrated
on the target deaf child [GL 3.4.2] so as not to be frustrating or irritating.
3.5 Game devices, avatars and genres
According to the above literature review, possibly due to difficulties in communicating
and socially interacting with nearby peers, deaf children prefer single-player games
[GL 3.5.1]. In the TERENCE studies with deaf and hearing children, we observed that all
our children’s preferences were for playing with mobile devices and console games. All
of them prefer doing specific activities always in the same place. In particular, the
majority of deaf children prefer playing with consoles by themselves: whereas seven- to
nine-year-old children prefer non-photorealistic consoles, nine- to 11-year-old ones
prefer photorealistic ones [GL 3.5.2].
Moreover, deaf children tend to prefer games with movement (e.g. balance board of
WII or kinect of XBOX), action games and sometimes brain-teasing games [GL 3.5.3].
Male deaf children are fairly sensitive to points as well as challenges and like sport,
shooting and war games. Therefore, games for male children should have many
progressive challenges, extrinsic rewards, sport and adventure elements [GL 3.5.4].
Deaf children suffer from increased distractibility and have different attention needs
according to the literature. Moreover, they are easily irritated and prone to frustration.
Therefore, the timing of games should be carefully calibrated on the target deaf players,
in particular, if reading is involved [GL 3.5.5]. Notice that deaf children perceive
immediately when they are treated like younger children, i.e. if the illustrations in a book
are for a younger kid they may refuse to read the book. The older they grow, the more
impatient they become. Thus, the game genre should be calibrated on the age of the
target player, e.g. the genre of texts and pictures should be age-appropriate [GL 3.5.6].
Several studies show that children who played action digital games showed enhanced
performance on all aspects of attention. Moreover, from our TERENCE usability
experiments with deaf and hearing children, it turns out that playing video games takes a
large part of the deaf children’s day, and is preferred over other daily activities (e.g. TV,
reading). So the training with games like action games may be used to enhance deaf
children’s skills, in particular, for improving their performance in problem-solving
strategies [GL 3.5.7], possibly enhancing their working memory.
Deaf children tend to tackle difficult reading tasks with the help of their parents, older
relatives or teachers. Deaf children tend to prefer customisable human-like avatars
that guide them through games. Thus, games should feature collaborative customisable
234 T. Di Mascio et al.
human-like avatars, guiding players through difficult game tasks [GL 3.5.8]. Deaf
children like adventure, fantasy or comics books with many vivid illustrations, and are
picky about and alert to discrepancies between a text and its illustration. Therefore,
illustrations should be informative and highly coherent with textual information. More
in general, graphical elements should be vivid and coherent with the game genre
[GL3.5.9].
4 Relations between guidelines and deaf study findings
The above guidelines are rooted in the studies from the literature reported in the opening
to the paper. Next, we present a list of recap tables (Tables 1–4) for each of the fields of
the above literature review (Section 2): text characteristics; visual attention; focused
attention and social interaction; memory; game devices, avatars and genre. The bottom of
each table also lists the relevant bibliographical references from the literature review.
Each row of a table corresponds to an area of the guidelines, and reports the related
guidelines with their identifiers in the last column.
Table 1 Text comprehension
Characteristics Area GL #
Word recall by deaf seems poor for long words, as well as for abstract,
ambiguous or unfamiliar words without surrounding contextual clues.
Deaf children’s vocabulary skills are better when words have only a
single meaning or when they are presented in context.
Unfamiliar words, or words not specifically introduced to the student
cannot be easily lip-read – whenever feasible.
Reading involves using the centre of visual field to fixate the word for
hearing children. Therefore, the fact that deaf children pay more attention
to items in the periphery could partially cause confusion in the
identification of letters and words.
Some deaf individuals have problems with decoding and phonology.
Word 3.1
3.2.2
3.2.3
Deaf individuals seem to have problems with complex sentences, in
particular, with local cohesion.
Sentence 3.2.1
Deaf children are likely to have problems with tapping global coherence
as well as local cohesion.
Deaf students tend to remember disconnected portions of the text rather
than the whole picture, especially when the material is unfamiliar.
Deaf readers seem to benefit from a ‘windowed reading’, whereby only
limited amounts of a locally coherent text are made available at any one
time.
Several studies assert that signed instructions are not better comprehended
than written instructions.
Entire text 3.2
Deaf children prefer reading short texts and books with vivid pictures. If
the teacher uses pictures or games, the deaf child is more stimulated to
perform reading tasks.
Preferences 3.5.8
3.5.9
(Bavelier et al., 2006; Proksch and Bavelier, 2002; Dye et al., 2009; Campbell and Wright, 1990;
Grigonis and Narkevičienė, 2010; Dye et al., 2008a; Trezek et al., 2010; Marschark, 2000, 2001;
Banks et al., 1990; Di Mascio et al., 2012)
Guidelines for designing games for deaf children 235
Table 2 Visual attention
Characteristics Area GL #
Deaf individuals seem better in certain aspects of visual perception and
specifically at allocating visual attention to the periphery of the visual field.
Deaf signers seem to be more distracted by
p
eripheral events and hearing
individuals are more distracted by central events.
Visual attention
to peripheral
events
3.2.2
3.2.3
3.2.4
3.3.3
Young children have more difficulties for serial recall and take more time
for recovering attention.
Serial recall
and attention
recovery
3.3.1
3.3.2
Deaf individuals are better than hearing individuals in orienting visual
attention from one location to another.
Orienting visual
attention
Deaf individuals are more affected by the presence of distractors, i.e. they
are less good in selective attention.
Selective visual
attention
3.2.3
3.2.4
3.3
In deaf individuals, the ability to discriminate very small differences in
direction of motion is altered and more deaf subjects discriminated gross
differences in direction as leftwards vs. rightwards.
Discrimination
of small/ gross
differences
3.3.3
3.3.4
(Bavelier et al., 2006; Proksch and Bavelier, 2002; Smith et al., 1998; Dye et al., 2010; Bosworth
and Dobkins, 2002b; Dye et al., 2009; Todmann and Cowdy, 1993; Grigonis and Narkevičienė,
2010; Dye et al., 2008a; Bosworth and Dobkins, 2002a; Fine et al., 2005)
Table 3 Focused attention and social interaction
Characteristics Area GL #
The majority of deaf children have problems in focusing their attention.
When deaf children are reading books, the teacher often has to recall the
attention of the children and indicate the point where they were reading.
Deaf children tend to have diminished attention time (after a bit, they are
bored).
Focused
attention
3.2.2
3.2.3
3.2.4
3.4
3.5.3
3.5.5
Few mothers declare that they have problems in eliciting and maintaining
eye gaze and joint attention with their deaf children.
Eye gaze and
joint attention
3.2.4
3.4
Deaf children tend to be more impulsive and lack inhibition and suffer
from increased distractibility.
They are more alert of being treated differently and suffer from it. The
older they become, the more frustration prone they grow.
Impulsivity
and lack of
inhibition
3.4
3.5.4
3.5.5
3.5.6
Calibrated use of vibration feedback or motion for deaf children may be
used to get their attention focused.
Vibration
feedback or
motion
3.4
Several studies show that children who play action video games show an
enhanced performance on all aspects of attention.
Playing games
– effects
3.5.6
3.5.7
Deaf children devote less time to cooperative activities and significantly
more time to solitary activities.
Preference
for cooperative
activities
3.5.1
3.5.2
(Quittner et al., 2004; 8; Hertzog, 2011; Buckley et al., 2010; TERENCE Consortium, 2013;
Meadow, 1980; Quittner et al.,1994; Reivich and Rothrock, 1972; Higginbotham and Baker, 1981;
Di Mascio et al., 2012)
236 T. Di Mascio et al.
Table 4 Memory
Characteristics Area GL #
Reading ability is closely linked to overall short-term memory performance.
This seems lower for deaf individuals, so is long-term memory.
Short- and long-
term memory
performances
3.1.3
3.2.1
Deaf children surpass hearing children in short-term memory tasks for
complex figures, except when the task involved serial recall.
Deaf people are accredited to rely more heavily on visuo-spatial short-
term memory codes. For instance, deaf subjects have deficits in recall for
linguistic stimuli, printed words and pictures, but not in recall of non-
linguistic stimuli such as unfamiliar faces and spatial arrays of lights.
Deaf children tend to better recall images than texts alone. In particular,
since their first impact is with the physical aspect of a person, they tend
to remember this better; often, they refer to a person by signing physical
characteristics of the person, e.g. the curly girl.
Visuo-spatial
short-term
memory
3.3
3.5.2
3.5.3
3.5.4
3.5.9
Deaf individuals may be at a disadvantage on linguistic tasks that involve
serial recall, but they seem to be better in tasks that involve temporal
order.
Memory for
temporal order
tasks
3.5.5
Children’s performance in memory tasks seems directly related to the
number of games they play: the more games they play, the better their
performance in memory tasks when retested.
Playing games –
effects
3.5
(Bosworth and Dobkins, 2002b; Marschark and Mayer, 1998; Todmann and Seedhouse, 1994;
Macsweeney et al., 1996; Todmann and Cowdy, 1993; Grigonis and Narkevičienė, 2010; Nunes
et al., 2010; Di Mascio et al., 2012; Proksch and Bavelier, 2002; Smith et al., 1998)
5 Conclusions
This paper presents guidelines for the design of digital games for deaf children. Positive
effects that playing games has on the deaf child’s visual and memory abilities are already
reported in the deaf literature. Such abilities as well as other characteristics or preferences
of deaf children are listed in the literature overview in the first part of this paper. The
major findings about deaf individuals are picked up for compiling our guidelines, and the
relations between the guidelines and the literature are pinpointed in the closure to the
paper. A preliminary shorter version of the guidelines was published in Melonio and
Gennari (2013). Such guidelines were applied in the design of incrementally revised
prototypes of the TERENCE system (Cofini et al., 2012). Future work foresees the
usage of the guidelines for conducting co-design studies of games with deaf children as
participants (see Melonio, 2013).
References
Azbel, L. (2004) How do the deaf read? The paradox of performing a phonemic task without
sound, Intel Science Talent Search. Available online at: http://www.psych.nyu.edu/pelli/docs/
azbel2004intel.pdf.
Ball, K.K., Beard, B.L., Roenker, D.L., Miller, R.L. and Griggs, D.S. (1988) ‘Age and visual
search: expanding the useful field of view’, Journal of the Optical Society of America A,
Vol. 5, pp.2210–2219.
Guidelines for designing games for deaf children 237
Banks, J., Gray, C. and Fyfe, R. (1990) ‘The written recall of printed stories by severely deaf
children’, British Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 60, pp.192–206.
Bavelier, D., Dye, M.G.W. and Hauser, P. (2006) ‘Do deaf individuals see better?’ Trends in
Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 10, No. 11, pp.512–518.
Bosworth, R.G. and Dobkins, K.R. (2002a) ‘The effects of spatial selective attention on motion
processing in deaf and hearing subjects’, Brain and Cognition, Vol. 49, No. 1, pp.170–181.
Bosworth, R.G. and Dobkins, K.R. (2002b) ‘The effects of spatial attention on motion processing
in deaf signers, hearing signers and hearing nonsigners’, Brain Cognition, Vol. 49, No. 1,
pp.152–169.
Briggle, S. (2004) Language, Literacy and Deaf students, University of Central Lancashire,
Preston, UK.
Buckley, D., Codina, C., Bhardwaj, P. and Pascalis, O. (2010) ‘Action video game players and deaf
observers have larger Goldmann visual fields’, Vision Research, Vol. 50, pp.548–556.
Campbell, R. and Wright, H. (1990) ‘Deafness and immediate memory for pictures: dissociations
between “inner speech” and the “inner ear”’, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology,
Vol. 50, No. 2, pp.259–286.
Chiasson, S. and Gutwin, C. (2005) Design Principles for Children’s Technology, Technical
Report, HCI-TR-2005-02, Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan.
Cofini, V., De la Prieta, F., Di Mascio, T., Gennari, R. and Vittorini, P. (2012) ‘Design smart
games with context, generate them with a click, and revise them with a GUI’, Advances in
Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal, Vo. 1, No. 3, pp.55–68.
Conrad, R. (1979) The Deaf School Child: Language and Cognitive Function, Harper and Row,
London.
Di Mascio, T. (2012) User Classification, User Identification, User Needs, and Usability Goals,
Technical Report D1.2, TERENCE project.
Di Mascio, T., Gennari, R., Melonio, A. and Vittorini, P. (2012) ‘The user classes building process
in a TEL project’, in: International Workshop on Evidence-Based Technology Enhanced
Learning, Springer, Berlin, pp.107–114.
Dye, M.W.G. and Bavelier, D. (2010) ‘Differential development of visual attention skills in school-
age children’, Vision Research, Vol. 50, No. 4, pp.452–459.
Dye, M.W., Hauser, P.C. and Bavelier, D. (2008a) ‘Visual skills and cross-modal plasticity in deaf
readers: possible implications for acquiring meaning from print’, Annals of the New York
Academy of Science, Vol. 11, No. 45, pp.71–82.
Dye, M.W.G., Hauser, P.C. and Bavelier, D. (2008b) ‘Visual attention in deaf children and adults:
implications for learning environments’, in Marschark, M. and Hauser, P.C. (Eds): Deaf
Cognition: Foundations and Outcomes, Oxford University Press, New York, pp.250–263.
Dye, M.W.G., Hauser, P.C., and Bavelier, D. (2009) ‘Is visual selective attention in deaf
individuals enhanced or deficient? The case for the useful field of view’, PLoS ONE, Vol. 4,
No. 5, p.e5640.
Easterbrooks, S.R. (2010) ‘Evidence-based curricula and practices that support development of
reading skills’, in Marschark, M., and Spencer, P.E. (Eds): The Oxford Handbook of Deaf
Studies, Language, and Education, Vol. 2, Oxford University Press, New York, pp.111–126.
Fine, I., Finney, E.M., Boynton, G.M. and Dobkins, K.R. (2005) ‘Comparing the effects of
auditory deprivation and sign language within the auditory and visual cortex’, Journal of
Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 17, No. 10, pp.1621–1637.
Gibbs, K.W. (1989) ‘Individual differences in cognitive skills related to reading ability in the deaf’,
American Annals of the Deaf, Vol. 134, No. 3, pp.214–218.
Grammenos, D., Paramythis, A. and Stephanidis, C. (2000) Designing the User Interface of an
Interactive Software Environment for Children, Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for
Research and Technology – Hellas Science and Technology Park of Crete, Heraklion, Crete.
238 T. Di Mascio et al.
Grigonis, A. and Narkevičienė, N. (2010) Deaf Children’s Visual Recall and Its Development in
School Age, Vytauro Didžiojo universitetas, Kaunas, Lithuania.
Hendar, O. (2009) Goal Fulfilment in Schools for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired, The National
Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools, Härnösand, Sweden.
Hertzog (2011) ‘Categorization of vibration feedback at different levels: a study with deaf and
hard-of-hearing consumers’, 011 RIT Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Higginbotham, D.J. and Baker, B.M. (1981) ‘Social participation and cognitive play differences in
hearing impaired and normally hearing preschoolers’, The Volta Review, Vol. 83, pp.135–149.
Macsweeney, M., Campbell, R. and Donlan, C. (1996) ‘Varieties of short-term memory coding in
deaf teenagers’, Journal of Deaf Study and Deaf Education, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp.249–262.
Marschark, M. (1997) Psychological Development of Deaf Children, Oxford University Press,
Oxford.
Marschark, M. (2000) ‘Education and development of deaf children: or is it development and
education?’ in Spencer, P., Erting, C. and Marschark, M. (Eds): Development in Context:
The Deaf Child in the Family and at School, LEA, Mahwah, NJ, pp.275–292.
Marschark, M. (2001) Language Development in Children Who Are Deaf: A Research Synthesis,
National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Alexandria, VA.
Marschark, M., and Mayer, T.S. (1998) ‘Mental representation and memory in deaf adults and
children’, in Marschark, M. and Clark, D. (Eds): Psychological Perspectives on Deafness,
Vol. 2, Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, Mahwah, NJ, pp.53–77.
Marschark, M., Convertino, C.M., Macias, G., Monikowski, C.M., Sapere, P. and Seewagen, R.
(2007) ‘Understanding communication among deaf students who sign and speak: a trivial
pursuit?’ American Annals of the Deaf, Vol. 152, pp.415–424.
Meadow, K.P. (1980) Deafness and Child Development, University of California Press, Berkeley,
CA.
Melonio, A. (2013) ‘Game-based co-design of games for learning with children and teachers:
research goals and a study’, Proceedings of Chitaly2013: Doctoral Consortium of CHItaly,
16–19 September, Trento, pp.11–22.
Melonio, A. and Gennari, R. (2013) ‘How to design games for deaf children: evidence-based
guidelines’, Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Evidenced-based Technology
Enhanced Learning, 22–24 May, Salamanca, Spain, pp.83–92.
Myklebust, H.R. and Brutten, M.A. (1953) ‘A study of the visual perception of deaf children’, Acta
Otolaryngologica. Supplementum, Vol. 105, pp.1–126.
Nunes, T., Evans, D., Barros, R. and Burman, D. (2010) Can Deaf Children's Working Memory
Span be Increased? Department of Education, University of Oxford, Oxford.
Proksch, J. and Bavelier, D. (2002) ‘Changes in the spatial distribution of visual attention after
early deafness’, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol. 14, No. 5, pp.687–701.
Quittner, A.L., Smith, L.B., Osberger, M.J., Mitchell, T.V. and Katz, D.B. (1994) ‘The impact of
audition on the development of visual attention’, Psychological Science, Vol. 5, No. 6,
pp.347–353.
Quittner, A.L., Leibach, P. and Marciel, K. (2004) ‘The impact of cochlear implants on young deaf
children: new methods to assess cognitive and behavioral development’, Archives of
Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Vol. 130, No. 5, pp.547–554.
Reivich, R.S. and Rothrock, I.A. (1972) ‘Behavior problems of deaf children and adolescents: a
factor-analytic study’, Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, Vol. 15, pp.84–92.
Slegers, K. and Gennari, R. (2010) State of the Art of Methods for the User Analysis and
Description of Context of Use, Technical Report D1.1, TERENCE Project.
Smith, L.B., Quittner, A.L., Osberger, M.J. and Miyamoto, R. (1998) ‘Audition and visual
attention: the developmental trajectory in deaf and hearing populations’, Developmental
Psychology, Vol. 34, No. 5, pp.840–850.
Guidelines for designing games for deaf children 239
TERENCE Consortium (2013) The TERENCE Project website. Available online at: http://www.
terenceproject.eu.
Todmann, J. and Cowdy, N. (1993) ‘Processing of visual attention codes by deaf and hearing
children: coding orientation or M-capacity?’ Intelligence, Vol. 17, pp.237–250.
Todmann, J. and Seedhouse, E. (1994) ‘Visual action code-processing by deaf and hearing
children’, Language and Cognitive Processes, Vol. 9, pp.129–141.
Traxler, C.B. (2000) ‘The Stanford Achievement Test, 9th Edition: national norming and
performance standards for deaf and hard-of-hearing students’, Journal of Deaf Studies and
Deaf Education, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp.337–348.
Trezek, B.J., Paul, P.V. and Wang, Y. (2010) Reading and Deafness: Theory, Research, and
Practice, Delmar Cengage Learning, Clifton Park, NY.
Wallander, B.H., Green, C.S and Bavelier, D. (2001)Stretching the limits of visual attention:
the case of action video games’, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, Vol. 2,
No. 2, pp.222–230.
Werner, H. and Strauss, A.A. (1941) ‘Pathology of figure-background relation in the child’,
Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, Vol. 36, pp.236–248.
... For over 30 years, literacy has been recognized as a key concern in SEN and especially DHH education, and understanding the main difficulties faced by these children can help inform remedial actions and strategies in the learning and teaching practices (Conrad, 1979;Di Mascio et al., 2013). The main difficulties are therefore grouped and briefly reviewed into the following themes derived from a preliminary interview with the SEN educators: Memory and the Working memory, Abstract and Intangible concepts, Parental Involvement and Absenteeism, Language Differentiation and Code-mixing, and Time Constraints and the Curriculum. ...
... Differentiating games according to cognitive characteristics such as visual attention, text comprehension skills and memory abilities turn out to be crucial for the suitability and accessibility of students with SEN, and more specifically those with sensory deficiencies such as hearing impairment (Di Mascio et al., 2013). According to deaf studies (Marschark & Hauser, 2008), the reading skills of DHH people are lagging behind compared to those who hear, while both groups are considered to have similar visuoperceptual skills. ...
... Understanding the main difficulties faced by DHH children can help inform remedial actions and strategies in the learning and teaching practices (Conrad, 1979;Di Mascio et al., 2013), and while several studies have reported the successful application of gamification in SEN and Deaf education (Cano et al., 2018;El Mawas et al., 2019;Jong, 2015;Lan et al., 2018;Wajiuhullah et al., 2018), none, or at least of those reviewed, addressed French language learning and teaching using games. Moreover, a preliminary interview with the SEN educators and School headmaster revealed that literacy in French language; which is a compulsory subject taught at elementary level; is the most difficult for DHH students. ...
Article
Full-text available
Yearly in Mauritius, only a few Special Educational Needs (SEN) and especially Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students manage to get a passing mark in French language at elementary level. As at date, literature suggests that there is hardly any French language learning tools connected with pedagogical knowledge and technological tools suitable for those children. The rationale behind this paper is to show how gamification of French learning resources can positively affect SEN and especially DHH students’ understanding and level of achievement in the language. Research questions were posed about the difficulties faced when students of that specific group learn to read and write in French, about how the gamification of textual resources can be used to improve the students’ learning, and the impact the games have on the students. The aim of this research is to embed gamification in the teaching and learning process of French language. Advocating for both qualitative and quantitative methods, the project based itself on the pragmatic paradigm while the theoretical framework is based on action research. Using my methodological inventiveness, data was gathered using techniques such as surveys, interviews, observations and focus group discussions through the lenses of narrative inquiry. On average, most students already did quite well when subjected to their teachers’ teaching methods only and showed a slight improvement for some students when games were added as learning aid.
... Game design practitioners have shown to explore non-user-centred requirements during early-stages of game conceptualization, but this knowledge is most often not shared with the "outer world" [22]. The requirements that are documented are scattered across different types of games, such as requirements for pervasive games in general [12,14,15], serious games [36][37][38][39], movement-based exergames [10,11,17,[40][41][42][43][44], online gaming sites [45], electronic computer games [8,46,47], mobile multiplayer (AR) games [48][49][50][51], massive multiplayer online games [52], non-digital multiplayer games [53], AR (augmented reality) indoor-based games [13,16,54], and guidelines for education [55]. These guidelines, requirements, and heuristics often pertain to games for children and the elderly, covering quality requirements for emotions, exertion, motivation, engagement and awareness levels, behaviour education, presence, social adaptability, accessibility, intergenerational and indoor gameplays both with computers, toys and table tops, and they also include recommendations specific to user experience for impaired users, mobile learning experiences, and user-game interaction. ...
... Involving people from different generations can contribute to a richer and more unique social experience [51,56], and the deployment of tangible objects bears the power of bringing people to the same space and set novel ways of interaction [54]. Exceptions exist, however: players afflicted with an impairment showed unwillingness to play with other people [39]. There are also guidelines that focus on LBGs for learning purposes that cover "social aspects", which, even though meant for a specific purpose, hint on ways to bring pupils together based on the level of their skills, role variation, and imposition of competition. ...
... Some stress digital interaction or indoor interaction [8,10,16,45], that can be related to, for example, virtual representation and reinforcement, are mainly providing a game play experience compatible with indoor spaces [37]. Social interaction is included in guidelines for games with very different goals such as learning environments [37,38,91], for children with special needs such as deaf children [39], but also for blogs, wikis, and discussion groups [38]. Many of our requirements relate to these purposes and media (reinforcement, mission, virtual representation, ownership, community contribution, exertion, collaboration, winning condition, achievement, and digital interaction), but to different extents and outcomes. ...
Article
Full-text available
Social interaction is part of the fabric of society, and is essential to challenge many types of social barriers. Location-based games provide a means to foster such interaction in local communities. The design of such games is currently based primarily on designer experience and on literature on game design in general, and not on an understanding of user requirements. This article explores the preferences and desires of adolescents in neighbourhoods of Rotterdam South to socially interact with others and engage with their own neighbourhood via location-based games. Adolescents are informants in the exploration of gaming activities for social interaction, which, when subjected to expert review with the MDA framework, produce gameplay requirements for the desired purpose: social interaction in public space. Such requirements provide researchers and game designers insights on the game dynamics best suited to foster location based social interaction.
... Figure 4 shows the flow diagram of the serious game "Perdi-Dogs". In the design of the physical board game and the mobile application, various design recommendations proposed by Cano et al. [55] and Tania et al. [56] were considered: (1) texts should be supported by pictograms; (2) a character/hero should be considered that In the design of the physical board game and the mobile application, various design recommendations proposed by Cano et al. [55] and Tania et al. [56] were considered: (1) texts should be supported by pictograms; (2) a character/hero should be considered that takes account of both the gender and age of the child ( Figure 5); (3) an interface ought to use the language and concepts familiar to the user; (4) metaphors should build on children's existing knowledge so that they can easily see what to do and predict the outcomes of their actions; and (5) the design of the representations should allow children to easily see how they relate to the world. ...
... Figure 4 shows the flow diagram of the serious game "Perdi-Dogs". In the design of the physical board game and the mobile application, various design recommendations proposed by Cano et al. [55] and Tania et al. [56] were considered: (1) texts should be supported by pictograms; (2) a character/hero should be considered that In the design of the physical board game and the mobile application, various design recommendations proposed by Cano et al. [55] and Tania et al. [56] were considered: (1) texts should be supported by pictograms; (2) a character/hero should be considered that takes account of both the gender and age of the child ( Figure 5); (3) an interface ought to use the language and concepts familiar to the user; (4) metaphors should build on children's existing knowledge so that they can easily see what to do and predict the outcomes of their actions; and (5) the design of the representations should allow children to easily see how they relate to the world. ...
... Therefore, the child must correctly select the skill to overcome the obstacle in question. In the design of the physical board game and the mobile application, various design recommendations proposed by Cano et al. [55] and Tania et al. [56] were considered: (1) texts should be supported by pictograms; (2) a character/hero should be considered that takes account of both the gender and age of the child ( Figure 5); (3) an interface ought to use the language and concepts familiar to the user; (4) metaphors should build on children's existing knowledge so that they can easily see what to do and predict the outcomes of their actions; and (5) the design of the representations should allow children to easily see how they relate to the world. ...
Article
Full-text available
Computational thinking (CT) has been a topic of interest in research, not only in the field of computer science, but also in education, since it allows the development of a set of competencies in the child related to problem-solving and decision-making. However, few studies on CT are focused on children with disabilities. Developing computational thinking skills for children with hearing problems is a challenge, even more so when their language skills are limited. Following a methodology for conception of serious games for children with hearing impairment called MECONESIS (Acronym in Spanish, MEtodología para CONcepción de juEgos Serios para nIños con discapacidad auditiva), we designed the serious game Perdi-Dogs for children between 7 and 11 years old with hearing impairment. We considered a set of aspects, such as challenges/learning, control, rules, feedback, interaction, rewards, surprise, communication/language, and fantasy. Perdi-Dogs involves both a physical and a digital interface, specifically a physical board together with digital interaction, by means of a QR (Quick Response) code and vibrotactile feedback system. Perdi-Dogs simulates a real environment, using physical elements able to interact simultaneously with technology. Evaluation was carried out with a group of seven children between 7 and 11 years old from the Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (Colombia). The results showed a high motivation to play for all of the children involved in the experiment.
... As result, tacit knowledge on the game creation is not made explicit and is not publicly available [47]. Most design recommendations stem either from literature [23][24][25][26][27][48][49][50][51][52][53][54], game analyses [9,45,[55][56][57], or the making experience of designers in the field [18,24,[58][59][60], and spread across types of games that are mostly different from LBGs: mobile games in general [9,16,26], serious games [51,[61][62][63], movement-based exergames [18,24,25,60,[64][65][66][67][68], online gaming sites [69], electronic computer games [23,52,57], mobile multiplayer (AR) games [49,50,56,59], massive multiplayer online games [70], non-digital multiplayer games [53], and AR (augmented reality) indoor-based games [17,27,58,71]. Most of the work does not specifically target LBGs for social interaction in public space, nor are they based on what players would like and desire to play (they are play-centric versus player-centric) [45,47,68,72,73]. ...
... Further tacit recommendations are in line with the inclusion of players of different generations and tangible objects, as they enable novel play experiences that have the power to expand what is currently known about interaction [58]. Yet, exceptions exist to such tacit knowledge and must be considered in isolation, e.g., in case of citizen's impairment [63]. This paper argues that such body of research (even the one on LBGs) does not focuses on LBGs promoting social interaction, nor does it focus exactly on social interaction. ...
Article
Full-text available
Location-based games invite players to have new forms of meaningful social interactions with others and provide opportunities for players to engage with their own neighbourhood's public space. Earlier research on user requirements for such games have identified seven different activity types that have proven to initiate social interaction and capture real life exchanges for meaningful play-based social experiences. Yet, current understanding on what makes these games successful in such endeavours is still insufficient. This study furthers current understanding on the effects of location-based games for social interaction in local communities: it studies the forms of social interaction that the previously identified seven types of game activities elicit by analysing the nature and types of the exchanges they trigger. Based on this analysis, a design framework is proposed to 1) analyse existing location-based games and describe the forms of social interaction they trigger, and 2) help practitioners design new game activities that target specific forms of social interaction. This contributes to the enhancement of current understanding on the impact that these games can have in local communities, and on the way they can be better designed and used to promote social exchanges that are desired by players.
... Therefore, illustrations should be informative and highly coherent with textual information. More in general, graphical elements should be vivid and coherent" (Mascio et al., 2013) A visualidade é, nos surdos, o principal canal de processamento Outro exemplo é a adaptação das histórias "o rato guloso" e o "coelhinho branco" -este só com ilustrações e interpretação em ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Digital technologies have now become a means of facilitating and empowering information and communication, having on touch-screen devices a reality that, although still recent, already has a considerable impact in today's society. Children are among their main supporters and users, and therefore also at the center of the debate about their use. However, if much of this discussion has been limited to problems related to its excessive (and even addictive) use, the truth is that these supports are especially effective as communication interfaces for children with some kind of difficulty. Focusing research on children with special educational needs, the early identification of a shortage of solutions for deaf children denoted a reality that extends to the context of the classroom, where the great majority of materials used are developed by educators, who, despite their best, present natural gaps in specific training in design or visual communication, thus underutilizing a unique opportunity to make the learning process faster, more effective and more rewarding. In the absence of the sense of hearing, the pedagogy of the project, which supports the teaching-learning process of these children, appeals to other senses - above all vision and touch - stimulating the "experivience" for the acquisition of concepts. This was the favorable context that promoted this research work, which, based on the bibliography consulted and observation sessions on the ground, considered digital technologies as an opportunity of enormous potential in the education of deaf or low-hearing children. Based on research on a cross-sectional basis, this document seeks to affirm the fundamental role design plays in designing these products - in a holistic approach that addresses the various needs, agents and constraints, and which, given the idiosyncrasies of these children, may result in clear benefits increasing their literacy.
... There are various initiatives to create games accessible for people with visual impairments. Likewise, others that seek to develop accessible games for those with motor [9,15,27], hearing [36] and cognitive [42] disabilities. Previous work surveyed some of these eforts [62]. ...
... There are various initiatives to create games accessible for people with visual impairments. Likewise, others that seek to develop accessible games for those with motor [9,15,27], hearing [36] and cognitive [42] disabilities. Previous work surveyed some of these efforts [62]. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
The landscape of digital games is segregated by player ability. For example, sighted players have a multitude of highly visual games at their disposal, while blind players may choose from a variety of audio games. Attempts at improving cross-ability access to any of those are often limited in the experience they provide, or disregard multiplayer experiences. We explore ability-based asymmetric roles as a design approach to create engaging and challenging mixed-ability play. Our team designed and developed two collaborative testbed games exploring asymmetric interdependent roles. In a remote study with 13 mixed-visual-ability pairs we assessed how roles affected perceptions of engagement, competence, and autonomy, using a mixed-methods approach. The games provided an engaging and challenging experience, in which differences in visual ability were not limiting. Our results underline how experiences unequal by design can give rise to an equitable joint experience.
... Right from the start, the need to use tutorials [2,7] and integrate LGP [2,6,7,9]. As far as the text is concerned, avoid ambiguous or unfamiliar words and use short sentences [2,4,7,9] are guidelines consistent with our message simplification approach. Lastly, combine text with illustrations [2] was a solution that can be seen in practice in fig. 2. ...
Chapter
This case study analysis aims to share the bilingual tutorial development process of a research-based educational video game, being designed and developed as a tool to support mathematics learning for deaf and hard of hearing students. The fact that this game is inclusive raises several problems in addressing the message, such as the simultaneous presence of text and videos in Portuguese Sign Language (LGP) and a careful vocabulary selection. The results obtained from a User Experience (UX) study lead to a major redesign of the tutorial. It implied several changes, like the simplification of the LGP message, a significant text reduction and the integration of images in the text. The redesign strategy is based on the following assumptions: long LGP videos lead to dispersion of attention; LGP message understanding benefits from short videos and objective content; the text must respect a simple vocabulary and an objective message; the integration of images in the text helps to identify interaction targets; the instruction block must be divided into sections and interspersed with in-game actions. Although this approach is to be validated in the next UX study, it is a promising indicator the fact that those principles are in line with video games guidelines for deaf people.
Thesis
Full-text available
This thesis broadens current understanding of how location-based games can promote meaningful social interaction in citizens' own neighbourhoods. It investigates social cohesion and the role of social interaction to its promotion, delves into which requirements users have for playing in their neighbourhood and with its citizens, and takes a technical perspective into how this type of games should be designed to be successful at triggering interaction in public space. From this understanding, which stems from adolescents and adults from Rotterdam and The Hague, NL, a specific design and prototype of a location-based game is proposed and tested. This thesis addresses several gaps found in the current body of knowledge. On the one hand, meaningful interactions are person-dependent, can occur in various forms, and their impact on societies is not well understood. On the other hand, it is not well understood how to build location-based games for such aim: it is not known which requirements should be considered, attempts to build location-based games are often a product of in-house development not centred early on around users, no known guidelines exist for meaningful social interaction, and no consensus exists on what to consider when building location-based games from a technical perspective.This thesis offers learnings on how to best design location-based games to promote interaction that matters to local communities. It firstly offers an overview of social cohesion and how multiple factors and actors have the power to influence local communities. It then argues that meaningful social interaction bears the power to break down stereotypes and prejudice, empowers people's agencies to act, has a positive impact on cohesion, emerges at people's own pace, and addresses conflict. From this, it dives into the preferences, needs and desires of adolescents and adults to better understand what sorts of interactions are meaningful to them. This thesis explores throughout several case studies the requirements that these target groups have, and advances gameplay dynamics and game activity types that location-based games should implement to be successful at inviting meaningful social interaction in public space. These case studies also research different sorts of interaction that each game activity type invites players to have, and elicit specific game ideas that are particularly tailored around perceived-to-be socially challenging neighbourhoods in The Netherlands. These case studies culminate in the recommendation of several guidelines to be used at different stages of the game design: gameplay requirements, guidelines for meaningful social interaction to occur in the studied groups, and the sorts of game activities that designers should include to invite specific forms of social interaction. This thesis also proposes a systems architecture with key architectural components, to drive consensus and inform on what to consider when building location-based games for this purpose from a technical perspective.The lessons learned that are advanced in this thesis help practitioners design location-based games that are more tailored to what future players want to play, and help researchers understand what it means to design for meaningful social interaction in any public space around the world. Players have distinct preferences with regard to the ways they are exposed to their own neighbourhood, and the forms of interaction they would rather experience. Understanding this, and incorporating such preferences in game design, lead to gameplay experiences that can have a positive effect on societies, as they have the power to promote interaction and positive relationships in local communities. These gameplay experiences invite individuals to come together and have meaningful interactions in a playful way, (re)engage with their own neighbourhood, and be part of their local community.
Chapter
Usability heuristics are an effective method widely used in usability research. Sometimes it’s necessary to build unique usability heuristics to address usability in specific domains. This paper develops a heuristic evaluation for the hearing impaired language training mobile application by collecting and analyzing previous studies. A comprehensive set of 19 heuristics and detailed explanations are presented in this study for the hearing impaired language training app. The new heuristics for the hearing impaired language training app were validated through surveys and case studies with the help of users and usability experts. Based on our findings, those results can be used as the reference to design or evaluate language training apps for the hearing impaired.
Article
Full-text available
This paper reports on the research topics and goals for my Ph.D. In the opening, game-based learning and co-design are overviewed. Issues emerging from the surveyed literature are used to frame the research goals of my Ph.D., broken down into propaedeutic objectives. The paper continues presenting the co-design studies for tackling the stated objectives, and focuses on the study conducted with tablets. The design of this study is discussed rather in details so as to foster the discussion and gather expert feedback from CHItaly community. The paper ends recapping the main lessons learnt across the co-design studies.
Article
Nowadays, circa 10% of 7-11 olds turn out to be poor comprehenders: they demonstrate text comprehension difficulties, related to inference making, despite proficiency in low-level cognitive skills like word reading. To improve the reading comprehension of these children, TERENCE, a technology enhanced learning project, aims at stimulating inference-making about stories. In order to design and develop the TERENCE system, we use a user centred design approach that requires an in depth study of the system's main end-users, namely, its learners and educators. This paper reports the user classes building process for learners by means of user-centred design field studies.
Article
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (2004) and No Child Left Behind Act (2001, 2002) require teachers to use evidence-based practices (EBPs) in instruction. This is not an easy task as the evidence base in deaf education tends to be woefully lacking. This chapter begins with a discussion of the challenges that deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) children face in acquiring reading skills, focusing especially on the apparent bifurcation in the population between those with access to sound and those without. Next, it provides a review of the relations between early skills and later reading acquisition, examining those factors that are related to positive literacy outcomes. The field of literacy instruction is changing rapidly, and teachers need guidelines for reviewing the existing knowledge base. The chapter presents a discussion of levels of research effort through which educators may examine the knowledge base. In the absence of clear evidence, educators may choose to investigate practices from the perspective of their relation to correlates of language acquisition. Finally, it identifies curricula accepted for use with hearing children by the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) and relates these to our evidence of their use with DHH children. In no other area of deaf education is the challenge to educators more important and complex. We must make the effort to keep abreast of newly identified EBPs as research becomes available.
Chapter
The goal of this paper is to present the first evidence-based guidelines for the design of electronic games for deaf children. According to the most recent deaf literature, playing with such games shows positive effects on deaf children's visual abilities and working memory abilities. Our review of deaf literature, briefly sketched in the paper, considers such abilities as well as other relevant findings concerning the needs of deaf children most relevant for the design of electronic games for them. The paper also outlines the latest findings of the TERENCE project, which builds electronic smart games for deaf children. All such findings are then use to compile the guidelines, which are presented in the third and final part of this paper.
An adequate introductory text in child psychology should both introduce the major theoretical and research issues in this burgeoning realm of the behavioral sciences and also provide those who will not go on to more advanced reading with interesting and accurate information about the application of psychological principles to important human concerns. Trapped within a framework that is either too erudite or too chatty, few such volumes achieve success on both fronts. It is thus refreshing to find the psychology of childhood and adolescence presented through a generally smooth and comprehensive integration of theory, research evidence, and social application in Singer and Singer's Psychological Development in Children. Although the authors have adopted a predominantly chronological outline in their exposition, tracing the development of the child's behavior from its prenatal determinants to late adolescence, eight of the volume's 15 chapters are topical in emphasis. Thus, following developmental coverage of the first
Article
Designers of children's technology and software face distinctive challenges. Many design principles used for adult interfaces cannot be applied to children's products because the needs, skills, and expectations of this user population are drastically different than those of adults. In recent years, designers have started developing design principles for children, but this work has not been collected in one place. This paper takes a first step towards this goal: based on an analysis of a wide range of research into children's technology, we present a catalogue of design principles for children's technology that are oriented towards the needs of designers.
Article
Interactions between audition and vision were investigated in two experiments In the first experiment, school-age hearing children, deaf children with cochlear implants, and deaf children without implants participated in a task in which they were to respond to some visual signals and not others This task did not involve sound at all Deaf children without implants performed much more poorly than hearing children Deaf children with cochlear implants performed considerably better than deaf children without implants The second experiment employed a longitudinal design and showed that the rate of development in visual selective attention was faster for deaf children with cochlear implants than deaf children without implants Moreover, the gains were rapid—occurring within 2 years post-implant surgery The results suggest that a history of experience with sounds matters in the development of visual attention The results are discussed in terms of multimodal developmental processes
Article
It was proposed that performance on cognitive tasks is dependent on compatibility of task demands with a coding orientation arising from a particular learning history. Deaf children's early dependence on visual stimuli and the use of gesture for communication may result in a visual-action coding orientation that is highly compatible with the demands of certain tasks, such as Pascual-Leone's (1970) compound stimulus visual information (CSVI) task. The prediction followed that deaf children would be superior to hearing children on the CSVI task. The CSVI task was devised by Pascual-Leone as a measure of M-capacity, a central processing space that, according to his developmental model, increases in integer steps with progression through Piagetian stages. The model predicts that M-capacity, as measured by the CSVI task, will be constant across populations irrespective of any differences in their learning histories. The competing predictions were tested in an experiment in which deaf and hearing children, matched on age, sex, and nonverbal reasoning, were given a vocabulary test and the CSVI task. The coding orientation hypothesis was supported by the finding that deaf children had lower vocabulary scores but outperformed hearing children on the CSVI task.