First Few Weeks

I figured I would come on here and summarize what has happened so far for this project.

We (Heather, Chris, Mike, and I) first met Wednesday, September 5th. On this day, Heather explained to us about Aphasia and the different types and how it affects those individuals in their ability to communicate. We also discussed how they view Facebook and some of the difficulties they have with the site (business, verbage, inability to communicate, etc.). We then stated that our main goal is to develop a social network application for individuals with Aphasia that is very clean and simple to use. From here we launched a little bit into a discussion of potential technology to use for the app, and JQuery Mobile and Phone Gap were mentioned. Some features we “spit-balled” for our app include: pictures, voice input, predictive text, topic indexing. Chris’s takeaway was to figure out how to upload a picture using JQuery Mobile.

Later on Wednesday, Chris and I met to go through the steps of setting up an Android app for my smartphone, including all of the installs necessary. However, for some reason I can never seem to make installs go smoothly, and this proves to be the case once again. I will have to come in and ask Chris’s help in getting my laptop set up for Android app development.


Heather and I met the next day (Thursday, September 6th) to discuss the project more. In this meeting, we talked about how, in general, those with Aphasia are usually 50 years of age or older, and most don’t have email accounts, so when they try to get them on Facebook, they first have to go through the steps of creating them a gmail account before they can get them on Facebook. We also talked about how logging in is an issue and it would be nice to find an alternative.

In trying to decide where to start, we were looking at a person’s profile page on Facebook with the whole site loaded and filling up the whole screen. I was looking at the page and realized that no matter how we change the verbage to try to make the site more intuitive (since a big issue is the language used, i.e. what’s a wall? what’s a status? what does it mean to post on a wall? what happens when you hit Comment?), the site will still be extremely busy and overwhelming for an individual with Aphasia. Then I proposed, what if when they logged in, they saw a screen saying, for example, “Would you like to edit your story today?” with Yes and No options. If Yes, it could bring them to a screen for editing their story, but if No it could bring them to another question, “Would you like to …” with specific choices. The idea would be to organize the site in such a way that it would be a guided experience for the individual using it, and then they only have to make one decision or do one thing on each page instead of having the ability to do everything all at once (like in Facebook where on every screen there is so much you can do: Like, Comment, Post, Photos, etc.). Heather loved this idea because she said it is very similar to how they do therapy, they ask a question and give options for the person to choose from to answer, and then based on that answer they ask another question and give more options and so on. Therefore, this guided approach would be taking a proven therapeutic technique and applying it to our social networking app!

We ended our meeting by writing out what we wanted to figure out from Heather’s focus group. We wanted their input on Facebook, what they like about it, don’t like about it, what features they use or would like to use if it were easier, etc. We also were concerned about how they would feel about privacy. Would they feel comfortable sharing their story with everyone or only people they knew? And on this note, would we include the concept of friends in our app, which is kind of the point of a social network? Lastly, we wanted feedback on our guided design.


Heather and I met again Tuesday, 9/11 to discuss how the weekend went at her Aphasia camp. She said it went great and she got some really good feedback. She had the chance to discuss our ideas with her mentor Dr. Jerry Hoepner, and he really liked the guided approach. However, he felt that if we could tie a realistic story to the experience, like discussion around a water cooler, then it would be even better because the individuals could apply the experience to a real life experience and it may make more sense to them. Heather also gathered that multiple modes of communication will be extremely important in our application. The key is that they want/need to be able to express themselves, and we need to give them the ability to do so in the channel that works best for them. Some are better at writing, some better at speaking, some at drawing, so if we have capability to include video, writing, images, speech-to-text, drawing, etc. then everyone should be able to find some way of expressing themselves. Lastly, we discussed the concept of having a password, and Dr. Hoepner’s idea was to have a keypad of icons instead of numbers so the individuals would just have to remember a correct sequence of three icons, or so.

We all met again the next day, Wednesday, 9/12 where we talked about our progress from the previous week and Heather’s findings from the Aphasia camp (what we talked about Tuesday). Chris showed us his ability to upload a picture using JQuery Mobile! We also decided that we should first work on a database schema, and aim to complete that by the end of the month.

Heather met with her focus group in Madison this past weekend. She documented her findings and intends to share them with us tomorrow!


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