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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: A number of CCTVs have been used by low vision people because their purchase has been supported by the Japanese government since 1993. However, the use state has not been well known, and some dissatisfaction with current CCTV models has been heard. In order to clarify the state of use for CCTVs and to identify user preferences for future improvements, we conducted a CCTV user survey with a questionnaire, and obtained 115 responses. The survey analysis reveals user preferences. We then prototyped a new CCTV addressing the identified user preferences and evaluated it.
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to propose and test some practical ideas for improving the ease with which ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) can be used by the visually impaired. This article consists of three parts. In the first part, we report the manner in which we designed sixteen raised pictorial signs, each of which represents one of the tasks involved in using ATMs. Four criteria were considered in their design: 1) They must be simple to recognize by touch alone; 2) Potentially misleading perspective or overlap must be minimized; 3) They should not be confused with each other; and…4) The task should be directly inferred or imaged from the individual design. In the second part, we experimentally evaluated recognition accuracy, ease of learning, and the effect of the size of the raised signs. The results of these experiments indicate that these new designs work well. In the third part, a mock-up of an ATM was built with seven of the sixteen raised signs and ten raised numerals arranged around the screen and also with auditory guide. A practical test of the entire system, carried out using both visually impaired users and blindfolded subjects, involved six kinds of transactions. Our results indicate that adding raised signs to ATMs is both economical and practical, and would provide a substantial benefit to many visually impaired users.
Abstract: Blind children, particularly congenitally blind children, find it difficult to understand their surroundings. Spatial awareness requires the ability to recognize shapes, to perceive locations and directions in space, and to match one space with another space (like a map). To help congenitally blind children acquire spatial awareness, we developed a computer-assisted instruction (CAI) system. This system consists of a personal computer, an image-capture board, and a camera with three charge couple devices. There are four tasks -- object selection (circle, triangle and square), object location, a tic-tac-toe game, and Hukuwarai (arranging face parts). The last two tasks are included so…that blind children may enjoy performing them. A blind user is asked to arrange blocks of different shapes according to vocal commands presented by the system. When the user completes the arrangement task, the camera captures a picture of the block layout. The system analyzes the shape and location of each block by image processing and outputs the result as speech expressing whether the arrangement is correct or not, and any correction, if necessary. The system achieves a rapid response of less than two seconds and has a simple interface requiring only mouse clicking. By repeating tasks using auditory corrections instead of getting help from sighted persons, the user acquires spatial awareness independently. We conducted experiments with five subjects, including three congenitally blind students, and two sighted children who were blindfolded. All of the subjects were interested in the system and the tasks, especially those involving games. We hope that the proposed system will help blind children gain spatial awareness.
Abstract: We have been studying a tactile vocoder which can convert speech information into tactile stimulation patterns as an aid to lipreading for deaf people. At present, we are trying to manufacture a portable tactile vocoder in cooperation with a manufacturer of electronic products. Specifically, we have made a small tactile display which presents vibratory stimulations to a finger. In this paper, we have investigated the mechanical characteristics of the tactile display and evaluated its usefulness through a consonant identification test. From the results, the average identification rate was found to be about 55% conclude that this new tactile…display was relatively practical.
Abstract: A three-dimensional (3D) laser printer that easily outputs any arbitrary tactile information has been developed for persons with deaf-blindness. The mechanism of the 3D laser printer is simply constructed with inexpensive linear motors and a semiconductor laser, achieving low cost and less noise compared to the mechanical braille printers, both of which are suitable for official and personal use. The 3D laser printer develops new dimensions in communication by (a) generating tangible letters, e.g., Moon and Kana letters for adventitiously blind persons to whom braille is too difficult, (b) generating braille letters of optimal size for each individual, and (c)…producing tactual maps with multi-layer thickness.
Abstract: Questionnaires were completed by 327 elderly persons about the usability of ten electric daily-living appliances, their participation in four types of outdoor activities, and their own functional decreases on five types of cognition. The results for the usability of appliances show that videocassette recorders, automatic teller machines, and microwave ovens are the three most difficult devices for the older person to use. On the other hand, the television was one of the easiest devices to use. As for the outdoor activities, elderly people experienced more difficulty with all activities with age. Concerning their cognitive functions, many elderly people experienced showed…more difficulty in attention, judgement, thinking and emotional control with age, but their memory functions had was already greatly deteriorated during their sixties. We then calculated the association coefficients to know the relationships between cognitive functional decreases and both the difficulties in using domestic appliances and the difficulties in performing outdoor activities. The resulting high association coefficients indicate that both the appliances with many operational steps and the unfamiliar outdoor activities posed many cognitive problems for elderly persons. These cognitive barriers seem to prevent the elderly people from using the useful electric daily-living appliances or accessing activity environments. We conclude that it is necessary for designers and developers to create cognitive barrier-free designs for products and environments to ensure elderly people can access and use them easily.