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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: Objectives: Little is known about the effectiveness of community-based programs that provide adaptive equipment to the elderly. This paper reports the results of an evaluation of a bathroom modification program (TAG ADAPT) that targets frail elders who are non-home owners. The purpose of the evaluation was to determine if clients: 1) improved in self-care, 2) encountered difficulties using equipment, 3) and continued to use equipment. The program is part of a community-based agency that provides housing advocacy services for elderly renters. Study design: A two-phase evaluation was used. Phase one involved an occupational therapist (OT) who observed bathing…and toileting tasks of 34 clients prior to receiving bathroom equipment and provided instructions following its installation. Phase two involved a brief telephone survey of 75 clients who used TAG ADAPT services. Results: Clients were primarily African-American, female, lived alone and were 70 years or older. Clients who received OT intervention demonstrated significant improvement in bathing (t = 2.65, p < .01), ADL performance (t = 3.01, p < .01), and transferring (t = 5.08, p < .000). The telephone survey indicated that 18% of ordered equipment was not received by clients. Of equipment received, 84% was reported in use. However, 65% of clients reported either a safety or vendor-related difficulty with equipment items. Conclusions: The evaluation demonstrates the benefits of incorporating home modification as part of a housing advocacy service approach. It also suggests that home modification programs should use a professional assessment and adequate home or telephone follow-up to assure quality of equipment delivery, installation and safe use.
Keywords: self-care, home modification, chronic conditions
Abstract: Disability has become normative in old age, for the greater numbers of 1) persons with disability now living long enough to experience the problems of aging and 2) older adults living long enough to experience the problems of disability. Regardless of the cause of disability, assistive technology (AT) has a major impact on the lives of older adults and its use has escalated. Federal and state policy makers have enacted legislation that encourages the use of AT devices and environmental changes in residences (i.e., home modification [HM]). Attention, however, has been focused on national policies such as the State Tech…Act despite the presence of many state-initiated actions. This article first presents a brief rationale for studying state-level AT/HM efforts. It then summarizes and critiques earlier studies before describing the methods and results of two studies of four different agencies with some responsibility for AT and/or HM for elders. A final section discusses the limitations and implications of these research projects, with reference to AT/HM policies and practices in the future.
Keywords: assistive technology, home modifications, older adults, state-level policy, disability
Abstract: Objective: The objective of this study was to describe how elderly users of assistive devices perceive and relate to their assistive devices in occupational performance. Study design: The research approach used was phenomenography, which endeavours to describe different ways of peoples experience. Result: User attitude is described as: the assistive devices are well incorporated; the elderly are forced to accept; the necessity of using the device gives the feeling of inadequacy. Accommodation to the use of assistive devices in daily activities are described as: modification and resignation. The Support of assistive device is perceived in three…different ways; external safety, internal security and respect. Conclusion: Elderly women’s experience of what it is like to rely on an artificial device is important when planing for support. The main feature that appears is an endeavour to gain control of, or a feeling of being able to take control of, one’s occupational performance.
Keywords: assistive devices, elderly, user perspective, environment, occupational performance
Abstract: A newly devised six-switch Morse keyboard was designed to improve the Morse code text typing performance of a teenager with cerebral palsy in a six-session training program. With the help of Morse alphabet link relations, the teenager learned to type each alphabetic character intuitively using the six Morse switches: “∙”, “—”, “∙ ∙”, “∙ —”, “— ∙”, and “— —”. The average number of keystrokes per alphabetic character was reduced by a factor of 1.78 as compared with the conventional single-switch or two-switch method. A word-based interactive training system with immediate visual and auditory feedback was employed to provide the…teenager with stable and fast typing training. After the three weeks of training, results from this study showed that the teenager’s performance had improved over time. The teenager’s typing rate was measured by words per minute (WPM), with five characters being equated to one word; his recognition rate was measured by an adaptive recognition program. Final test results show that the teenager achieved an average 8.4 WPM typing rate and a nearly 100% teenager. Most importantly, he achieved a much higher typing performance without looking at the keyboard, and as easily as with a single switch or two switches.
Abstract: Much research has been carried out on people and their social networks during the past 30 years. The literature describes the function and necessity of social networks. Studies about persons with mental retardation and their social network show that they typically have a limited social network. In modern society, communication and information technology play an important role in interaction with others and in maintaining a social network. The purpose of this review article is to highlight and discuss the potential of advanced technologies, focusing on telecommunication, to broaden the outreach and social network of persons with mental retardation. The literature…suggests Advanced technology has a potential to broaden the social network of persons with mental retardation.
Keywords: social network, communicative assessment, mental retardation, telecommunication, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
Abstract: Seating, positioning and wheeled mobility systems are frequently purchased by individuals with disabilities. Mechanisms for effectively prescribing and evaluating the potential uses of these systems to maximize individual function and assure positive health outcomes do not generally exist. Consequently, a committee of experts in the field of rehabilitation technology, along with consumers and others, developed a set of guidelines and decision matrices to assure more consistency for choosing these systems in a way that could improve consumer satisfaction, improve function and health outcomes, and decrease costs associated with improper prescription of these systems. The reliability of these decision matrices was…recently tested. The development of these matrices and the methods for testing the reliability of the decision matrices and the results are discussed.
Abstract: Objective: Recent research by the authors has investigated alpha wave amplitude increases in response to reduced visual input as a system for controlling electrical devices, with application for the disabled. However, alpha wave changes contingent with visual input is poorly understood. Further research was conducted on this phenomenon in order to optimize our ability to harness it as a control device. Study Design: To address this lack, alpha wave reactivity was studied in 21 non-disabled and 16 neurologically disabled (spinal cord injured; SCI) persons in laboratory conditions. Results: Large increases in alpha wave reactivity occurred in…the 8–12 Hz range in posterior, central and anterior regions of the brain for both groups. There were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of alpha wave increases in amplitude following eye closure (EC) in the posterior cortex. Not all subjects showed similar increases in all cortical areas. No significant differences in alpha wave amplitude increases following EC were found for sex, age, handedness or hemisphere. However, in the non disabled group, substantial negative associations occurred of body mass index with all cortical sites, while mild but consistent positive associations were found for diastolic blood pressure. Conclusion: SCI persons have sufficient amounts of alpha wave reactivity contingent with eye closure to operate a hands free control device. The information from this research will be used to optimize technology being designed to activate, quickly and remotely, electrical devices using brain signals.