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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 does not address all possible forms of lighting for the elderly. Rather, it seeks to explain what it is about the elderly visual system that makes changes from conventional lighting practice desirable and then to summarise what those changes are. As the visual system ages, the range of distances over which focus can be achieved is diminished, the amount of light reaching the retina is reduced, more of the light entering the eye is scattered, and the colour of the light is altered by preferential absorption of short wavelengths. Everyone who lives long enough will experience these changes,…but with increasing age there is also an increased probability of pathological change in the eye. These pathological changes can lead to partial sight and, ultimately, blindness. The consequences of all these changes in the visual system with age are reduced visual acuity, reduced contrast sensitivity, reduced colour discrimination, increased time taken to adapt to large and sudden changes in luminance and increased sensitivity to glare. Lighting can be used to compensate for these changes, to some extent, and hence can be used to support the independence and quality of life of the elderly.
Abstract: Electronic aids to daily living (EADL) are also known as environmental control systems (ECSs) or environmental control units (ECUs). Descriptive studies have been conducted regarding the benefit of EADL devices. These studies mostly focus on usage, qualify of life and satisfaction. There is a need for the study of functional benefits from EADL usage. This paper reports the development of Measure of Control using Electronic Aids to Daily Living (MCEADL), a tool that measures the functional changes specifically related to the use of EADL. We tested the psychometric qualities of MCEADL with 36 individuals (15 users and 21 non-users of…EADL) with spinal cord injuries at or above C5/6 level. MCEADL was administered to the two groups twice, at a time interval of 4–8 weeks. The results of the study indicated that MCEADL has good internal consistency and good to very good test-retest reliability. In this paper, we discuss the possible applications of MCEADL as a clinical outcome measure or a program evaluation tool. Development of an outcome measure tool is an on-going process. Future research is necessary to examine the clinical utility of the measure with different diagnostic groups.
Abstract: This paper considers the main aspects and questions that are required to be asked by any designer of residences that include technology designed to support the lives of disabled people. It seeks to reframe the design process to extend the concepts of ‘inclusive’ and ‘universal’ design within the social context of designing for people with a wide range of disabilities. Designing ‘smart homes’ or homes that contain elements of ‘smart home’ technology for disabled or older people is not different from designing the home for people without any form of impairment on the one hand. On the other hand, there…is a perceptual shift that is required in order to ensure needs are met from all stakeholders. There is a need to determine the needs of the occupant(s) and reflect these needs within the overall design. This paper addresses the main questions that arise from the design process as well as discuss the role of cultural probes in enhancing the design.
Abstract: The barrier-free suburb of Marjala in Finland is the first Finnish barrier-free suburb built in 1995. It received the golden Helios-prize from the European Union Program for disabled persons . The suburb is designed for life-long-living for all: for families with young children, for the visually impaired, other disabled and older persons. But the development was not only restricted to well-designed buildings and environments. The city of Joensuu created the Marjala Model as to how to plan new buildings and services in a multi-professional group together with the citizens. New information and communication technologies were also taken into account. The…experiences of the working group with internet (teleshopping, internet corners, support) were utilized later in other projects of the city and in the region of North Carelia. The Marjala project was EU-funded and it co-operated with many other EU-projects.
Keywords: barrier-free, city for all, life-long-living, information and communication technology, multi-professional work groups, end-users, disabled and older people
Abstract: In this paper we argue that developing self-legislative ethical guidance documents to inform the research and development of enabling technologies for older persons and disabled persons is a worthwhile pursuit. The basis of the discussion is an argument from analogy between clinical medical research and enabling technology research. Similarities between clinical medical research and development of enabling technology research and development are that trial participation does not equal benefit to participants, informed consent can be problematic, participants may incur costs, participation can be risky, situation of participants after the trial is uncertain, the privacy of participant data is of central…importance, user groups with special needs as participants are involved, raising unfounded expectations is a concern, and that ethics committees are relevant in designing studies. Despite these parallels, the ethical guidelines for clinical medical research cannot as such be implemented to the multiprofessional and multidisciplinary field of enabling technology research and development. As the search for technological solutions for the support of independent living of older and disabled persons has become a source of increasing attention in recent years, ethical issues have been emerging especially through the implementation of information and communication technology for new and often vulnerable user groups. Topical ethical issues in enabling technology include the surveillance of persons and the accumulation of personal information in new types of databases. In developing ethical guidelines for this growing field of enabling technology development, the role of international professional organizations is crucial.