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Technology and Disability communicates knowledge about the field of assistive technology devices and services, within the context of the lives of end users - persons with disabilities and their family members. While the topics are technical in nature, the articles are written for broad comprehension despite the reader's education or training.
Technology and Disability's contents cover research and development efforts, education and training programs, service and policy activities and consumer experiences.
The term Technology refers to assistive devices and services.
- The term Disability refers to both permanent and temporary functional limitations experienced by people of any age within any circumstance.
- The term and underscores the editorial commitment to seek for articles which see technology linked to disability as a means to support or compensate the person in daily functioning.
The Editor also attempts to link the themes of technology and disability through the selection of appropriate basic and applied research papers, review articles, case studies, programme descriptions, letters to the Editor and commentaries. Suggestions for thematic issues and proposed manuscripts are welcomed.
Abstract: Twenty years from now, there will be at least 100 million older people in Europe. The number of European disabled people is also on the increase. The European Union is tackling these challenges in a number of ways, for example, by supporting advanced technological research and development initiatives into issues affecting older people and disabled people. This paper focuses on the European Commission
Keywords: assistive technology, European Commission, information and communication technologies, people with disabilities, older people, research and technological development, Telematics for the Integration of Disabled and Elderly people
Abstract: In Europe, the development of housing designs which address the needs of people with disabilities began some 30 years ago with specialised housing solutions, and simple adaptations. They addressed the needs of wheelchair users, in particular. Building legislation and welfare legislation (e.g., rental subsidies) supported the building of this special housing, which enabled a higher degree of integration in the community for citizens with disabilities. The past ten to fifteen years, however, has seen a paradigmatic…change in many European countries with the introduction and refinement of so-called Lifetime Adaptable Housing standards within mainstream housing. In this approach, the goal has become one of ensuring that new-build and renovated housing stock is technically capable - at low cost - of accommodating the widest possible range of user needs, that is, for persons with all types of disabilities, families with small children and seniors. This paper gives an overview of European experiences in bringing disability access standards to mainstream housing, based on a survey of eighteen countries. The paper documents the existence of a variety of technical standards as well as differing economic incentives and legislative powers between the countries. The paper concludes that new partnerships between builders, architects and organisations of people with disabilities have advanced the practice of building adaptable housing considerably. Yet, there is considerable scope for technical research and development targeted towards new, flexible housing types.
Keywords: adaptable housing, building regulations, physical access, universal design
Abstract: This paper addresses the critical issue of accessibility of interactive applications and services in the Information Society by disabled and elderly people, following two paths. Firstly, the paper develops an argumentation for proactive and generic strategies towards designing for the broadest possible end-user population, including disabled and elderly people, as opposed to reactive, adaptation-based approaches. To this end, the paper provides an overview of research and development work in the area of…accessibility in Europe, and follows the evolution of research work from adaptation based solutions to the notion of universal access to the Information Society. The paper also reviews the current state of the art in the area of universal design, and elaborates on the contributions of the unified user interface development method towards the development of an accessible Information Society. Secondly, the paper discusses necessary steps to advance the available results beyond technological feasibility, towards the economic efficiency and efficacy needed in the long run. It concludes by pointing out the compelling need for international collaboration and discusses recent efforts in this direction.
Keywords: Information Society, accessibility of computer-based applications and services, adaptations, User Interfaces for All, Unified User Interface Development, technology transfer, non-market institutions
Abstract: Windows and the World Wide Web are two of the keys to the Information Technology explosion that we are all caught up in. Computer capabilities are increasing while they are getting easier to use. But how does a blind person handle a graphical environment like Windows? This article deals with Certec's efforts to find a way to use haptics (i.e., controlling with movements and getting feedback via the sense of touch), to provide new computer interaction techniques for…visually impaired people and people with physical disabilities. Haptic technology makes it possible to extend the range of touch from the length of an arm to a virtually unlimited distance.
Keywords: haptic interface, Touch Windows, blind, sense of touch, visual disability
Abstract: Supported employment services have made open employment a meaningful option for persons with intellectual disabilities. To date, however, few people with more severe intellectual disabilities have benefited from these opportunities . Many such persons can, with systematic instruction, rapidly learn complex work tasks, but need long-term support to maintain an acceptable level of performance over time. We describe a new system, based on a `palmtop' computer, to assist people with severe intellectual disabilities to…perform complex work tasks. Using the system, a worker with severe intellectual disabilities uses a radically simplified palmtop computer to access a series of pictorial instructions guiding him/her through the steps in a task. For users who may become distracted from job tasks, devices similar to a commercial radio-pager remind the user to request the next instruction after a pre-set time has expired since the previous instruction. Should the user not respond to the prompt, the job coach or supervisor receives a similar alert. We present data from a series of six single case experiments in which the system was evaluated in use by workers with severe intellectual disabilities in real work settings. The results show that the system supports higher levels of work accuracy and pace than simpler support systems such as booklets of picture instructions, and that the prompting capacity of the system is useful to workers who may become distracted from job tasks. In addition, the capacity of the system to deliver instructions in clusters tailored to the needs of the individual user increases the utility of the system for persons with varying support needs.