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An exploratory investigation into the usability and usefulness of training people with learning disabilities in a virtual environment


Rose, F. D.; Brooks, B. M.; Attree, E. A.


k. A.


Disability and Rehabilitation, 2002, Volume 24 (Number 11/12), Seite 627-633, London: Informa Healthcare, ISSN: 0963-8288 (Print); 1464-5165 (Online)





Two studies sought to answer the following questions: Are people with learning disabilities capable of using a virtual environment? Are they motivated to learn using this training method? Do they show any benefit from using a virtual environment? Does any benefit transfer to improved real world performance?


In the first study, 30 students with learning disabilities were sequentially allocated to an active or a passive experimental group.

Active participants explored a virtual bungalow searching for a toy car. Passive participants watched the exploration undertaken by the preceding active participant and searched for the toy car. All participants then performed spatial and object recognition tests of their knowledge of the virtual environment.

In the second study, the errors of 45 participants on a real steadiness tester task were noted before they were randomly allocated to three groups-a real training group, a virtual training group and a no training group. After training, the participants performed a second test trial on the real steadiness tester.


The students were capable of using a virtual environment and were motivated to use this training method. Active exploration of a virtual environment was found to enhance their memory of the spatial layout of the bungalow but not their memory of the virtual objects. In the second study, virtual training was found to transfer to real task performance.


These two laboratory-based studies provide answers to four important questions concerning virtual training of people with learning disabilities. Hopefully, the findings will encourage this training aid to be used more widely.

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Disability and Rehabilitation

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Informationsstand: 29.01.2004

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