An Empiric Study of the Use of Mobile Technology by Users with Intellectual Disability

  • Alfredo Mendoza-GonzálezEmail author
  • Huizilopoztli Luna-García
  • Ricardo Mendoza-González
  • Cristian Rusu
  • Jorge I. Galván-Tejada
  • Hamurabi Gamboa-Rosales
  • José G. Arceo-Olague
  • José M. Celaya-Padilla
  • Roberto Solis-Robles
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 847)


People with intellectual disabilities can use tablet computers and smartphones to enhance their learning and increase their independent living. Nevertheless, there is a dark side in the use of mobile devices, directed linked with distraction, dependency, and isolation, especially in young people. This research focuses in the question, what kind of activities does people with intellectual disability do with mobile devices? With this objective an empiric study was developed over a population of 25 teenagers of two countries: Mexico and Chile. It included direct observation, surveys, interviews, and active research over two uncontrolled and controlled scenarios. All observations, evaluations and analysis were divided in 3 groups: Usage focus, Performance, and Subjective appreciation, Results showed that the main usage of mobile devices by these teenagers was entertainment, being Youtube® the most popular application. The performance of users varies widely depending of the experience in the use of such devices, but all of them have troubles with text and tiny touchable objects. Users are really happy while using freely their mobile devices, it decreases when the activities area guided and limited by parents or teachers. Parents and teachers see with good eyes the use of mobile devices in classroom and home with educational meanings, but both declare their lack of knowledge in finding the right content.


Human factors Human-computer interaction Accessibility 



The authors thank those who participated in the tests developed in this research work, the young people who dedicated their time and effort in the surveys, interviews and other activities. Likewise, special thanks are given to the facilities and support of the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso and the Fenix and Aparid foundations of the cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar in Chile, during the research stay carried out by the first author of this one job.


  1. 1.
    Vanderheiden, G.: Design for people with functional limitations. In: Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics (2012).
  2. 2.
    UNO, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 13 December 2006. Accessed 1 Feb 2018
  3. 3.
    WHO, International classification of functioning, disability and health: ICF, Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization (2001).
  4. 4.
    APA, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM) 5, American Psychological Association (APA), Arlington, Virginia, USA (2014).
  5. 5.
    Maulik, P., Mascarenhas, M., Mathers, C., Dua, T., Saxena, S.: Prevalence of intellectual disability: a meta-analysis of population-based studies. Res. Dev. Disabil. (2011).
  6. 6.
    McKenzie, K., Milton, M., Smith, G., Ouellette-Kuntz, H.: Systematic review of the prevalence and incidence of intellectual disabilities: current trends and issues. Intellect. Disabil. (2016).
  7. 7.
    INEGI, Encuesta Nacional de la Dinámica Demográfica, México: Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (2014)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    INEGI, Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010, Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática, Ciudad de México (2010)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    SENADIS, II Estudio Nacional de Discapacidad, Santiago, Chile: Ministerio de Desarrollo Social (2015)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Parker, P.: Down Syndrome: A Bibliography and Dictionary for Physicians, Patients, and Genome Researchers. Icon Group International Inc. (2004). ISBN 0-497-11392-9Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Troncoso, M., Del Cerro, M.: Síndrome de Down: Lectura y Escritura, Madrid, España.: Fundación Down 21 (2009)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ruiz, E.: Programación Educativa para Escolares con Síndrome de Down, Madrid, España: Fundación Iberoamericana Down 21 (2012). ISBN 978-84-615-7500-8Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    INEGI, Encuesta nacional sobre disponibilidad y uso de tecnologías de la información en los hogares, Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, Ciudad de México (2012)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    SUBTEL, Informe sobre acceso a internet, Subsecretaría de telecomunicaciones (SUBTEL), Ministerio de Transportes y Telecomunicaciones, Santiago, Chile (2016)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    SENADIS, 7a Encuesta Nacional de Acceso y Usos de Internet, Servicio Nacional de la Discapacidad (SENADIS), Santiago, Chile (2015)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dix, A., Finlay, J., Abowd, G., Beale, R.: Human-Computer Interaction, 3rd edn. (2003). ISBN-13 978-0-13-046109-4Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Johnson, J., Blood, E., Freeman, A., Simmons, K.: Evaluating the effectiveness of teacher-implemented video prompting on an ipod touch to teach food-preparation skills to high school students with autism spectrum disorders. Focus Autism Dev. Disabil. 28(3), 147–158 (2013). Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lorah, E., Parnell, A., Whitby, P., Hantula, D.: A systematic review of tablet computers and portable media players as speech generating devices for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. J. Autism Dev. Disord. 45(12), 792–804 (2015). Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kim, J., Kim, C.: Functional technology for individuals with intellectual disabilities: meta-analysis of mobile device-based interventions. J. Spec. Educ. Apprenticeship 6(1), 3 (2017). ISSN 2167-3454Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Luna, M.: Tecnología y discapacidad: Una mirada pedagógica. TIC y discapacidad 14(12) (2013). ISSN 1607-6079Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gutierrez, P., Martorell, A.: Las personas con discapacidad intelectual ante las TIC. Rev. Cient. Educomunicación 18(36), 173–180 (2011)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kumin, L., Lazar, J., Feng, J., Bentz, W., Ekedebe, N.: A usability evaluation of workplace-related tasks on a multi-touch tablet computer by adults with Down syndrome. J. Usability Stud. 7(4), 118–142 (2012)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wu, M., Baecker, R., Richards, B.: Designing cognitive help for and with people who have Anterograde Amnesia. In: Universal Usability. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken (2007)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Al Faraj, K., Mojahid, M., Vigouroux, N.: BigKey: a virtual keyboard for mobile devices. In: Jacko, J.A. (ed.) HCI 2009, Part III. LNCS, vol. 5612, pp. 3–10. Springer, Heidelberg (2009). Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hu, R., Feng, J., Lazar, L., Kumin, L.: Investigating input technologies for children and young adults with Down syndrome. Univ. Access Inf. Soc. 12(1), 89–104 (2013). Scholar
  26. 26.
    Reason, P., Bradbury, H.: Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice, London (2001)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    LeCompte, M., Schensul, J.: Designing and conducting ethnographic research: an introduction. AltaMira Press, Walnut Greek (2010)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    O’Reily, K.: Ethnographic Methods. Taylor and Francis Group, New York (2005)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Weschler, D.: Weschler Intelligent Test for Children (WISC) IV. Pearson, London (2005)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    V. International, Valpar Work Samples Test, Valpar International Corporation (2014)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación en Tecnologías Interactivas, A. C.AguascalientesMexico
  2. 2.Universidad Autónoma de ZacatecasZacatecasMexico
  3. 3.Instituto Tecnológico de AguascalientesAguascalientesMexico
  4. 4.Pontificia Universidad Católica de ValparaísoValparaísoChile

Personalised recommendations