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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: This paper will attempt to describe what Assistive Technology (AT) means and where AT services in the UK are now. It will also try to predict where they are going in the future by examining the drivers and pressures for change. As a result of the way in which services have evolved in the UK, the scope of this paper is largely limited to AT for people with physical and complex impairments. However it recognises that the current configuration of services does not reflect the most effective means of service delivery. It pays particular attention to the need for continuity…of support and highlights some of the difficulties presented by the current arrangement of services and questions their ability to enable disabled people to achieve social inclusion.
Abstract: In the frame of the Nest Project 30 sheltered homes were constructed around Hungary in the last 5 years. Now the stress is laid on providing professional support. Within the frame of this subsidy, assistive devices are going to be introduced to promote the improvement of the quality of life and the level of independence. As a first step a survey has been carried out looking at the present conditions at 19 different services provided for persons with mental retardation. Forming ten groups of devices, in 28% equipment was found to be less satisfactory than expected. Therefore, the records are…carefully analysed trying to identify the determining factors, such as the type of service, and the service provider. Considering the experiences and the results, lack of knowledge and information was found to be the most impedient factor in improvement of the use of assistive devices.
Abstract: Research based evidence for provision of powered mobility to disabled infants and children is a growing area of concern for the child, their families and the clinicians involved with the assessment and prescription of equipment. A review of the main literature on powered mobility studies with children identifies gaps which need to be addressed in terms of normal development, play and the role of assistive technology. The approaches and research designs of powered mobility studies during the past twenty years are discussed and the case is made for a new domain of research which is currently underway. The study…allows for a direction and design which is child led and addresses not only the motor and cognitive aspects but also the psychosocial aspects. The full methodology and results cannot be reported at this stage. The emergence of new assessment tools into the clinical field brings new knowledge and skills. This has to be put into context of existing attitudes and how they have evolved in relation to delivery of current services in the United Kingdom and the need for change.
Abstract: This paper will review procedures for assessing children for powered wheelchairs in the UK, and explore how they might be developed and improved. In many parts of the UK, procedures for assessing children for supply of a powered wheelchair are perfunctory. It will be argued that many children are unfairly rejected, and that they simply require practice and training in order to learn control over a powered wheelchair. Therefore, we suggest that assessment procedures should be developed to include loan of wheelchairs for extended assessment and training. A common argument against such provision is the increase in cost of assessment…and supply. However, given the importance of independent mobility in children's development, and the use of powered mobility to provide such independent mobility, these costs are acceptable given the improvements in childrens' quality of life. Procedures for assessing and prescribing powered wheelchairs within and outwith the NHS will be discussed, and examples from schemes to trial and loan powered wheelchairs will be used to illustrate the need for extended assessment and loans for training. Practices in the provision of other types of assistive technology, particularly AAC (alternative and augmentative communication) devices will be described and compared with powered wheelchair provision.
Abstract: A dual-pushrim hemiplegic wheelchair with significantly-improved ergonomics has been built and tested. Propulsion is via only one pushrim, and steering is done with one foot. The second pushrim is used to pirouette the chair either clockwise or anticlockwise. In comparative tests with a standard dual-pushrim wheelchair – covering intuitiveness of use, effort, and manoeuvrability – a panel of able-bodied users found the prototype to be much easier to use, and scored it 50% fully described and illustrated.
Abstract: Wheelchair users are not able to move around as easily as someone on foot. For those not in a wheelchair, to move sideways, perhaps alongside a work surface, generally just requires a step to the left or right. Someone in a wheelchair however must shuffle his/her wheelchair forwards and backwards several times. The more restricted the space available, the more difficult this is. A solution to this is to use an omnidirectional wheelchair, which can translate left and right, and rotate on the spot as well as the more conventional movements. Several projects have addressed this problem in the…past but have been complex and expensive and haven't worked on all floor surfaces. The authors have developed concepts for a simple and robust omnidirectional base and plan to integrate this into a new wheelchair design. This paper will describe these concepts, and discuss work in progress on realising these aims.
Abstract: The use of gesture recognition as a means of Human Computer Interaction for physically disabled users is discussed. The ability of motor-impaired computer users to make distinct, recognisable gestures is not exploited by current assistive technologies. A real-time computer vision system for recognition of one- and two-handed gestures defined by such users is described. An investigation into the feasibility of real-time, unencumbered recognition of gestures defined by motor-impaired users by means of Hidden Markov Models, trained with relatively few examples is performed and reported. Different feature vectors are compared and the trade-off between accuracy and training set size is explored:…an important issue for such interactively trained systems.