The use of augmented toys to facilitate play in school-aged children with visual impairments

Background: Children with visual impairments (VIs) face challenges in social play activities, which limits their opportunities to practice social skills. Aims: We investigated whether augmented toys were effective to facilitate play in 52 children with VIs who attended special schools for students with visual impairments and blindness. Methods and procedures: 52 children with VIs (mean age: 9.22 years, SD = 2.07) played three times with both an augmented and a non-augmented toy. A Playmobil knight’s castle was augmented with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, such that each play figure produced audio feedback during play. The RFID-technology could be activated and deactivated. Social and cognitive aspects of play were coded from video and data were analyzed using multilevel logistics. Outcomes and results: Children showed less disengagement and more parallel play, but less cooperative play when they used the augmented versus the non-augmented castle. This pattern persisted after repeated play sessions with both toys. Conclusions: The addition of sounds to physical toys increased shared attention between children with VIs during the exploration of play materials, yet it interfered with social interaction during peer play. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd

Background: Children with visual impairments (VIs) face challenges in social play activities, which limits their opportunities to practice social skills. Aims: We investigated whether augmented toys were effective to facilitate play in 52 children with VIs who attended special schools for students with visual impairments and blindness. Methods and procedures: 52 children with VIs (mean age: 9.22 years, SD = 2.07) played three times with both an augmented and a non-augmented toy. A Playmobil knight’s castle was augmented with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, such that each play figure produced audio feedback during play. The RFID-technology could be activated and deactivated. Social and cognitive aspects of play were coded from video and data were analyzed using multilevel logistics. Outcomes and results: Children showed less disengagement and more parallel play, but less cooperative play when they used the augmented versus the non-augmented castle. This pattern persisted after repeated play sessions with both toys. Conclusions: The addition of sounds to physical toys increased shared attention between children with VIs during the exploration of play materials, yet it interfered with social interaction during peer play. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd

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