Mapping Images To Objects By Young Adults With Cognitive Disabilities

How the type of representation (icons, photos of objects in context, photos of objects in isolation) displayed on a hand-held computer affected recognition performance in young adults with cognitive disabilities was examined. Participants were required to match an object displayed on the computer to one of three pictures projected onto a screen. We tested the opinion widely held by occupational therapists and special education professionals that there is an inverse relationship between cognitive ability and the required fidelity of a representation for a successful match between a representation and an external object. Despite their widespread use in most learning tools developed for persons with cognitive disabilities, our results suggest that icons are poor substitutes for realistic representations.