Designing ApplTree: usable scheduling software for people with cognitive impairments

Matthew Jamieson, Breda Cullen, Marilyn Lennon, Stephen Brewster, Jonathan Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


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.

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.

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.

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-348
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • speech and hearing
  • rehabilitation
  • biomedical engineering
  • orthopedics and sports medicine
  • physical therapy, sports therapy and rehabilitation
  • assistive technology
  • neuropsychological rehabilitation
  • cognitive impairments
  • mobile accessibility
  • reminding software
  • acquired brain injury


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