Designing ApplTree : usable scheduling software for people with cognitive impairments

Jamieson, Matthew and Cullen, Breda and Lennon, Marilyn and Brewster, Stephen and Evans, Jonathan (2022) Designing ApplTree : usable scheduling software for people with cognitive impairments. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 17 (3). pp. 338-348. ISSN 1748-3115 (

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Background Smartphone reminding applications can help overcome memory difficulties experienced by people with acquired brain injury (ABI). Cognitive difficulties with memory and attention make entering reminders into a device, and remembering to set reminders, challenging for this group. ApplTree is a reminding app with features that aim to address challenges. One app feature was push notifications (asking "Do you need to set any reminders?") to support people to initiate use of the app to set reminders. Another app feature was a customisable user interface design to support attention and short term memory during reminder setting. Methods In a mixed-methods user study, five people with self or other reported memory impairment following ABI used ApplTree for at least 4 months. They received push notifications for at least 2 months and no push notifications for at least 2 months. Monthly participant interviews provided insight into user interface preference, app use, and push notification acceptability. Results Receiving four Push notifications per day doubled number of daily reminders set and four of the five participants found receiving them to be acceptable. This long-term field study uncovered issues relevant for clinicians and designers, including insights into the potential benefits of different user interface designs, the impact of family members on app use, and the importance of perceived need influencing use and acceptance. Conclusions Feedback provided insight into future considerations when designing reminding apps and using them in neuropsychological rehabilitation. This work highlights the benefit of user-led research into accessible design and use of assistive technologies.


Jamieson, Matthew, Cullen, Breda, Lennon, Marilyn ORCID logoORCID:, Brewster, Stephen and Evans, Jonathan;