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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: Dementia is a progressive syndrome and the risk for a dementing disease increases by age. According to several studies, people with dementia and their caregivers have a risk of social isolation. The telephone is the most commonly used communication technology, but people with dementia often have problems using an ordinary telephone. The purpose of this study is to get descriptive information on 1) the role of telephones in the everyday life communication of people with dementia…and of their family caregivers and 2) whether an easy-to-use telephone is useful for them. Six people with dementia and their spouses tested a simple-to-use telephone for two months; they were interviewed four times and they filled in a questionnaire with six open-ended questions focusing on the use of the test telephone. The telephone was a central link to the outside world for both the people with dementia and their caregivers. It had several functions such as getting social support and stimulation, increasing safety and acting as a reminder. The test telephone eased finding numbers and dialling them, and in some cases it helped the person to remember who called and what was discussed. Most of the problems that the people with dementia had with phone use in general did not disappear with the use of the new phone. In most cases it did not help the person to remember whom he called and when. When the functions of technologies used in dementia care have been studied, nine functions have been mentioned: reminders, stimulation and relaxation, compensation, behaviour management, safety, surveillance, control assistance for relatives and service co-ordination. According to our study, telephone use falls under most of these functions.
Keywords: dementia, communication technologies, informal care, independent living
Abstract: Recent research by the authors has resulted in the development of an environmental control system (ECS) that enables severely disabled persons to activate devices using their brain signals. This ECS has been called the Mind Switch and its effectiveness is based on alpha wave amplitude increases in response to reduced visual input (brief eye closure). Following extensive studies of the electroencephalograph (EEG) patterns of non-disabled and disabled people, as well as numerous trials of its efficacy,…a third generation prototype has now been developed that is capable of being employed in the home environment. This paper describes in some detail this prototype. The information from this research will be used to optimize ECS technology designed for severely disabled persons to activate, quickly and remotely, electrical devices using their brain signals.
Keywords: alpha waves, severe disability, hands-free control, ECS
Abstract: There is an increasing recognition that older people are capable of being critical and active consumers of assistive technologies. This has led to the proposition that older people should be involved in their design and evaluation. In this paper we will describe a focus group methodology used to help older people identify and describe the nature of the mobility-related problems that they encounter, and then put forward ideas for their resolution, which might usefully be addressed…by innovative assistive technology research. This methodology was used with four groups of older people and the results revealed that the problems that were most frequently identified as difficult were bending and reaching, climbing stairs, and finding information. While focus group participants were able to suggest both existing and new solutions to these identified problems the researchers consider that further exploration of the methodology used in this study is needed in order to validate the choice of tools, the composition of the focus groups and the process by which researchers decide which of the potential solutions should be developed further.
Abstract: The POCUS Project has explored the possibilities to use the MANUS Manipulator as an assistive tool for 7 children and young adults with cerebral palsy, aged from 7 to 29 years. In an "interactive development" approach of fast iterations of development (interfaces, control methods), training and testing, new control environments have been created with the ADAPTICOM configuring method. They have been designed for minimal demands on coordinated user control, starting with 2 or 3 switches to…control all gripper movements in space. Controls and control procedures have been elaborated individually, resulting in interfaces like large lapboard mounted push buttons, a keypad, a joystick, head-controlled switches, or an individually moulded hand-held grip with 3 integrated push buttons. Cognitive training has been an integral part of the study, supported by development of teaching tools and tasks. Experimental results have been quite satisfactory, and two test persons have applied for a personal manipulator. User spin-offs include improved wheelchair control, computer access, assistive communication, cognitive skills and attention span.