Exploring illustration styles for materials used in visual resources for people with aphasia

Jeane-Louise Moys, Carmen Martínez-Freile, Rachel McCrindle, Lotte Meteyard, Holly Robson, Luke Kendrick, Maitreyee Wairagkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Images are often used in cueing therapy and other kinds of rehabilitation activities for people with an acquired brain injury. This paper presents a small-scale pilot study, which explores the appropriateness of different styles of illustration applied to visual resources used in combination with assistive technologies for people with aphasia. The study is part of a larger multidisciplinary project exploring how assistive technologies can be used to facilitate maximal engagement with rehabilitation and to facilitate communication and reengagement with hobbies and leisure activities. The study explored participants’ preferences and impressions of the materials with a view to informing design choices made for resources developed for the larger project. Three participants with aphasia participated in a focus group in which they were shown examples of materials developed as resources for cueing therapy and lifestyle activities. Four sets of illustrations varying in visual complexity – from icons with no context to illustrations with developed backgrounds – were shown at two sizes (A3 and A4). Participants shared their impressions of ease of use and their preferences for different levels of visual complexity in the illustrations, as well as changes in format and layout (combinations of six, nine and 12 images per board). Based on previous research and existing guidelines for good practice, we had anticipated that participants would find the contextualised examples more meaningful. However, our findings highlighted that participants preferred simple, icon-style illustrations rather than those with contextual detail. Participants’ comments suggested that familiarity with this style of illustration – based on their everyday engagement with mobile interfaces – was a likely explanation for this.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-113
Number of pages18
JournalVisible Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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