a Dutch care institution for mentally handicapped people, organised two
demonstration projects in 1996. These projects aimed at demonstrating
how computers can be used in care institutions and homes for mentally
Handicom developed two prototypes: Vertel mij... (Tell Me, a digital "agenda") and Sesam (shell around Windows).
...what am I going to do this afternoon?
...who's coming with me?
...what have we got for dinner today?
...when do I have to help to clean the place?
homes for mentally disabled people, photos or images are often used
to picture the activities that are coming up for a day.
The computer can also be used very well to do this. This was proved by the project 'Vertel mij...'.
By order of Eemeroord, Handicom developed a prototype of Vertel mij..., a digital information system for mentally disabled people. It shows what is on the agenda in a simple graphical way, picturing the actitivities for each person or for a group of persons. Ideally the program should be installed on every department, in combination with a touch screen.
The software (prototype)
The first screen contains one or more rows of photos showing the faces
of inhabitants. Every one of them can take a look at their personal
schedule simply by pointing at his photo (by
hand if a touch screen is used) or selecting it (with a mouse, keyboard or
The schedule contains images reflecting the activities in sequence. All days of the week are visible, but today's activities are highligted.
More info on activities
The user can select a activity to view more information about the
activity, displayed on a separate screen, again by the use of images.
For instance, if 'shopping' is the thing to do, the extra info contains
images of e.g. lettuce and meat, or pictures of the shops that will be visited.
Pictures of helpers (max. 4) who are going to take part in the activity are shown below the extra info, whereas the pictures of other inhabitants (max. 8) who are going to do the same, are shown on the right side of the screen.
What is in my PictureBook?
The screen with the schedule shows a button that is labeled 'Plakboek'. Plakboek is Dutch for 'picture-book'. Pressing the button opens up a screen with images of activities in which the inhabitant has been taking part the past few days. Every image can open up a separate extra-info screen that looks just like the extra-info screens that go with sceduled items.
Keeping the schedules up-to-date
Of course a helper or 'manager' must take care of the schedule to keep it up to date. The manager can alter the contents of every screen. The names of users, their pictures and other images for scheduled items that come up frequently could be placed on harddisk, so that it only takes a few minutes to keep the schedule up-to-date.