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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: The goal of this study was to explore how children who have significant physical disabilities could use a robotic arm to interact in a play and exploration activity. These children cannot manipulate toys and other objects to engage in typical play activities with adults or their peers. A robotic arm was used to provide an alternative method to engage in joint play activities. Using the robotic arm, these children were able to engage in play with…an adult. For successful play experiences, this activity required manipulation of objects in sequence and turn taking with the adult. Children were able to experience, independently, the mediated manipulation of real objects in the context of a play activity. They demonstrated an ability to interact and to carryout a sequence of steps to complete a play task.
Keywords: robotics, severe disabilities, children, play
Abstract: People with severe physical disabilities such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) with respirators have great difficulty in communicating with others and expressing even their most basic intentions and tend to be bedridden. Excellent communication aids for such people have been developed. However, just offering technical support is not enough for maintaining their quality of life (QOL). Broad consideration from the areas of medicine psychology, social science, and technology etc. is required. In this paper,…some considerations of the assistive aids for such people are described based on ten years experience with advanced rehabilitation services in Yokohama City, Japan. The concept of ``I-world'', ``You-world'' and ``They-world'' are introduced and applied for the investigation of the client's needs and the future direction of the service. It is our belief that through the use of the appropriate assistive aids, people with severe physical disabilities can return to a relatively normalized social life, i.e. life in ``They-world''.
Abstract: Ten years have passed since the establishment of the first assistive technology loan financing programs. Since that time, over 30 such programs have become operational and represent some of the most innovative funding alternatives for persons with disabilities of low income in need of assistive technology. The partnerships that have formed to create these programs are diverse and demonstrate how public/private investment can create real change and success for all parties. This article provides a current…status of these programs, case studies of creative program partnerships, and a review of a satisfaction survey of loan program participants from three states.
Abstract: Many people with dementia have difficulty completing activities of daily living (ADL) independently and require constant assistance and supervision. This results in a loss of independence and privacy, and causes them to become embarrassed and agitated. It was hypothesized that independence might be restored by using a computerized device that prompts and monitors a person as he or she completes an activity. Thus, assistance is provided, but a caregiver is not required to be present.…A prototype of such a device was developed, and a pilot study was conducted with one subject who had severe dementia. The handwashing activity was selected as the ADL for this study. It was found that the subject's performance improved when the device was used, and that the subject had fewer interactions with his caregiver. The pilot study also identified improvements that should be incorporated into future computerized devices and clinical trials.
Abstract: This research demonstration study investigated the potential for distributing low-cost, low-tech assistive equipment to functionally disabled elders through a state-funded home care program. The project strengthened the capacity of home care coordinating agencies to make assistive devices available to clients and then examined the extent to which devices reached clients and were beneficial to them. Using a quasi-experimental design, clients from one home care agency received the intervention six months prior to another agency…to permit evaluation of the program and client outcomes. Case managers participated in training sessions that provided an introduction to assistive equipment and guidelines for assessing clients, then worked with their clients to select and order appropriate equipment. Client outcomes were assessed through pre- and post-intervention client interviews and client records. Case managers distributed a modest amount of equipment that addressed a range of daily living activities to nearly 200 clients (average of four items at $76 per client). While there was no evidence that the project resulted in favorable implications for clients' performance of daily activities, there was evidence that equipment was beneficial on a task-specific basis, and clients reported high satisfaction. The demonstration was instructive and led to recommendations for supporting case managers as gatekeepers for disseminating assistive equipment to elder home care clients.
Abstract: For many people, the ability to control their own activities, make their own decisions and choose their own social network is a matter of course. Persons with functional disabilities, however, have in the past had little opportunity to influence or empower their daily lives, especially people with intellectual disabilities. Foucault  states that influence consists of relationships, of relative strengths between different people. The power relationship can describe a relationship between people, concerning individual…characteristics, e.g. degree of verbal capability, technical know-how, or physical strength. This article reports on some of the results from the study ``Social networks of adults with intellectual disabilities''. It is a study based on data from staff and relatives about 24 persons with intellectual disabilities. The study charted what affect opportunities for social interaction, the participants' social networks and the factors that affected them. It also examined issues of their influence and co-determination. Data was collected by interviews with staff at day centres and in group homes, as well as with relatives. The results show that social networks are built up by communication and interaction with others and that the environment is an important factor. Social network changes that have affect are that people stopped school, moved to a new home and started a new job. When the participants got older their parents died. The results indicated that several of the participants had little or no opportunity to exert influence over choice of activities and social contacts. This study shows that information technology is a factor which played an important role to affect the project participant's social interaction and their network.
Keywords: social network, intellectual disabilities, empowerment, video telephony
Abstract: This paper focuses on communication and social integration of adults with moderate intellectual disability. Two longitudinal projects form the basis of this article -- TeleCommunity and Videotelephony and Social Interaction, running from 1992 to 1999. The keywords in Europe today are participation and equal opportunities for all citizens in society, and this article will contribute to the critical discussion on this topic. Focus will be on persons with intellectual disabilities, to examine if and how they…can exert influence on their lives, especially as the majority of this population has speech and communication disorders.
Keywords: participation, equal opportunities, intellectual disability, mental retardation, social integration
Abstract: Bathroom falls are a significant health hazard among seniors. This cross sectional survey examined patterns of utilization and acceptability of bathroom safety devices, bathing and toileting practices, and bathroom falls in a sample of 550 older residents of non-profit apartment buildings in two Canadian regions. Almost one-third of participants (32%) preceding the study, of whom about 15% half of the bathroom falls were related to bath or toilet transfers and 80% access to bathroom devices used…them regularly and found them helpful. However, many participants also relied on hazardous supports to facilitate bathing and toileting activities. Implications of the findings relate to policy planning, product design, standard development, and public education.
Keywords: bathing, falls, assistive technology, older adults
Abstract: IPPA (Individually Prioritised Problem Assessment) is a new instrument to assess the effectiveness of assistive technology provision. It assesses the impact that problems have on daily life as perceived by the end-user. In an international trial, 248 clients of service delivery centres were interviewed using the instrument, of whom 188 also participated in a follow-up interview. Respondents had problems in mobility, hearing, speech-related communication or self-care. In addition to IPPA, SIP68 and…EuroQol were administered for validation purposes. The instrument fits well into the process of service delivery (and even facilitates the actual assessment). The direction of changes measured by IPPA is consistent with the direction of changes measured by SIP68 and EuroQol, supporting construct validity. Changes measured by IPPA are considerably larger, supporting our view that solving problems is a key outcome in provision of assistive devices. Results support the ideas behind the instrument and are promising enough to continue.
Abstract: In this paper we present a set of tools that help in building interfaces for users who exhibit uncontrolled tremor in their upper limbs. These tools, which use a standard sketch board as sensing and final interface device, permit the logging of movement information while the user performs some simple tasks. Several movement analysis tests are proposed and applied to a small group of users. These preliminary experiments were conducted as a phenomenological study of these…users. Although the sample size is small, test results are studied in detail and several important conclusions are obtained. Furthermore, useful data and procedures for building usable interfaces are also presented.