Accessible Virtual Art: Using Technology to Promote Upper Limb Movement and Creativity

David Hobbs, Alexander Paczynski, Laura Diment, Karen Reynolds

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Art is a creative process and the positive benefits of art have been documented in the literature previously, highlighting how art is linked to successful ageing (Fisher & Specht, 1999) and a sense of achievement for those living with dementia (LaPorte et al., 2003). However, most traditional art practices are ‘hands-on’, meaning they exclude many people with physical and cognitive impairments who may lack the necessary strength, coordination, dexterity and control to grip pencils, pens and paintbrushes. Splashboard is a novel and accessible digital art program that enables people to draw and create artwork by simply moving their hands and upper limbs while standing in front of a large screen television (the ‘canvas’). It was designed by engineers in consultation with therapists, special needs teachers and disability professionals to meet the needs of people with severe physical impairments. Splashboard uses a Microsoft Kinect sensor to identify the artist and then draws coloured lines across the screen as movement occurs. The program encourages movement, experimentation, exploration, and engages participants cognitively through the creation of art as well as physically through limb movement (Diment & Hobbs, 2014). The first iteration of the program was trialled with five children with severe motor impairments and highlighted that participants enjoyed using the program and increasingly engaged with it over time (Diment & Hobbs, 2014). The program was upgraded and recently trialled in a residential aged care facility with 15 residents (average age 84 ± 8 years, max. = 96 years, min. = 69 years). All trial participants could use and interact with Splashboard, with most participants believing that using it was beneficial for their physical and cognitive well-being. For one participant who could no longer write with either hand after suffering a stroke, Splashboard provided the opportunity to participate in artistic activities once again.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventAustralian Assistive Technology Conference: Collaborate, empower, transform realising opportunities with assistive technologies solutions - Jupiters Hotel and Casino, Gold Coast, Australia
    Duration: 27 Jul 201629 Jul 2016 (Conference flyer)


    ConferenceAustralian Assistive Technology Conference
    Abbreviated titleAATC 2016
    CityGold Coast
    OtherAssistive technology solutions are essential enablers in everyday life. They are becoming increasingly important to all people with an interest in health, disability, aged care,education, and employment services.Come and be a part of designing and shaping the future of assistive technology products and services by attending the Australian Assistive Technology Conference in July 2016. ARATA and OTA are proud to invite you to the Gold Coast for 3 days of unparalleled networking, continuing education, and advocacy opportunities. This conference will offer a diverse range of interactive, thought-provoking and educational sessions exploring current practice in the assistive technology sector. It will feature people who use assistive technologies in their daily lives as well as people who are passionate about promoting the effective design, selection and use of assistive technology solutions.The Gold Coast, Queensland, is the host city for AATC2016 and will be a great place to escape the winter chill. A carefully considered social program will be an opportunity for delegates to come together to build networks and relationships away from the formality of Conference sessions.
    Internet address


    • art
    • ageing
    • digital art program


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