Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guest Post by Diana Richardson: Interactive Art Site for Use with Adults

Diana Richardson, a graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions here in Boston, emailed me with this great site.  I encouraged her to write about it as a guest post and she agreed to do so (thanks, Diana!).  Diana brings the important perspective of working with adult clients that I don't often write about here, because I don't currently work with this population.  If you are an SLP working with adult clients and have resources you'd like to write up as a guest post, please let me know.  Additionally, Diana was mentioning that she finds that many of the resources I mention here are adaptable for her adult population, as long as the site or app isn't too childish- looking.  It occurred to me that I should label posts by age-range and I have started to do so, though this is a long-term project.  Thanks again, Diana!

As a graduate student working in my school's Aphasia Center, I am often looking for ways to engage adults in spontaneous conversation and elicit speech. I love using interactive websites as a tool, but often find it difficult to find activities that are appealing to adults. I recently found a great extension to the National Gallery of Art site: NGAkids Art Zone, which offers a wide array of interactive art activities suitable for both kids and adults.

This type of activity works best for eliciting language if the clinician controls the mouse and asks the client to communicate (using any combination of modalities) what he or she wants to add to the picture. The Faces and Places Landscape activity allows for dynamic creation of a landscape art project, allowing the user to add people, backgrounds, animals, trees, plants, and buildings. (HINT: to remove the George Washington figure on the default screen, click on his head and drag off the canvas). Click Random to make some giggly things happen and see how your client responds!

Each object is manipulable in terms of size and color, and the "people" in the image can even be animated to run, walk, jump, shake, fall, or stand - good for eliciting S-V-O sentences! This activity is also great for targeting circumlocution (I would often ask the client to describe what he wanted to add to the image, and together we would find an object that matched his description), directives, and categorization. Additionally, this activity allows for working on executive functioning skills as the client determines the best size and placement for various objects.

The final product is a work of art that looks more adult-like than some of the other interactive art features on the web. It can also be saved and printed, which makes for a nice extension activity at home (I would often tell a client to show his family the picture and describe it for them to encourage spontaneous conversation.) The other features on the site - Still Life, Portraits, Dutch House, Jungle, and Collage - are also excellent resources to use with adults. The site uses Adobe Shockwave Player, but once it's downloaded, the features work rather smoothly! Enjoy utilizing technology with your adult clients - they are often excited by the vast resources on the Internet!


  1. Great idea! I love using Google Maps with aphasic clients, but I can't wait to try this.

  2. The idea is great .Thanks for sharing.