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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 great deal of effort has been devoted in the past decades in the generic area of tremor management. Specific topics of modelling for objective classification of pathological tremor out of kinematics and physiological data, compensatory technologies and evaluation rating tools are just a few examples of application field. This paper introduces a comprehensive review of research work in this generic field during the last decades. In particular special focus has been put on the systems approach and thus a specific section on modelling has been included. Aspects related to experimental protocol and tremor pattern identification are reviewed in detail…with the aim of drawing a practical guideline when compensatory technology has to be developed. The current status on ambulatory and non-ambulatory tremor reduction technologies is given in the section devoted to tremor management. Here compensatory technologies are classified according to the tremor isolation and the tremor reduction approaches. Eventually, we finish our discussion with those aspects related to tremor evaluation.
Abstract: The Obstacle Course Assessment of Wheelchair User Performance (OCAWUP) is a new tool designed to assess and document manual and motorized wheelchair user mobility performance in controlled environmental situations which are standardized and potentially difficult. The instrument is designed to cover environmental obstacles that are related to daily wheelchair use. In this paper, we present the methodology and results of the content validity process regarding the choice of items (obstacles) and development of the scoring system. The methodology comprises three steps: 1) determining obstacle categories through a literature review, 2) determining obstacles through a focus group and individual interviews, and…3) developing the scoring system through a focus group and individual interviews. The content validation triangulates three data sources: literature, opinions of experts (wheelchair users, occupational therapists and researchers) and Canadian norms for home adaptation. Consensuses were reached on the choice of categories and items, and the scoring system. According to various experts, the obstacles are representative of those encountered in daily activities and social roles. It is expected that the OCAWUP could help clinicians in their interventions with wheelchair users to improve their social participation. Other studies should be conducted to obtain more information about its validity and reliability properties.
Abstract: The scientific progress in neuro-prostheses during the last ten years has led to a number of clinical applications that are being introduced in the health care system. Whereas the research so far has been carried out in the biomedical research environment it now enters the clinical area. This clinical research leads to new challenges concerned with clinical effectiveness, decisions on prescription to patients and economic value. In relation to the latter it is important to realize that health care budgets are under pressure world wide. For instance, in the Netherlands and the USA health care expenses are estimated to be…US$27,8 billion (2000) and US$1149 billion (1998) respectively. It is expected that health care growth in the Netherlands will be about 6% of which approximately 75% will be caused by technological advances. From this point of view it is not surprising that, in addition to clinical evaluation, cost-effectiveness research increasingly receives attention. This paper gives an overview of the principles and methodology of economic evaluation, the role of economic modeling and the challenge of assessing outcomes in economic appraisals. It is concluded that it is worthwhile to include economic evaluations in earlier stages of technology introduction. From a methodological point of view it is concluded that outcome measurement is especially important, since one has to show the relative gain of the neuro-prosthesis while a reduction in costs is not very likely. Outcome assessment and valuation can typically be performed using approaches like multi-attribute utility instruments, direct utility assessment (standard gamble), contingent valuation or choice modeling experiments. Each of the methods will be discussed. Finally, some conclusions will be drawn regarding economic evaluations in general and directions for the future.
Abstract: Speech recognition can give people with severe disabilities more control over their personal environments. For people with physical disabilities affecting the use of their hands, productivity is far more personal. Speech recognition can enable some people to perform daily living tasks without assistance. For others, such as the growing number of professionals afflicted with repetitive stress syndrome (RSI), speech recognition represents a means of getting or keeping employment. Thus speech recognition as a navigation aid is a key in solving the dilemma of a subset of disabled surfers. This paper reviews the technologies currently available for speech interaction with computers…and suggests how the future of web navigation may benefit from these technologies. The paper also discusses the results obtained from evaluation of a prototype website catering to users with a disability. The results of the evaluation by local health board officials indicated a positive response to the Voice Navigable website and aided recommendations for future work.
Abstract: Through the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology for Successful Aging (RERC-Tech-Aging) elder perspectives on cell phone designs and features were explored. Six-hundred and sixty-five participants (596 elders with disabilities, 69 adults with disabilities) from Northern Florida, Southern California, and Western New York were surveyed through face-to-face interviews, phone interviews, or mailed surveys. The survey addressed satisfaction, importance, frequency of use, methods for learning, barriers to use, views on features, and ways the cell phone had helped. The majority of elders (60%) valued their cell phone, and a large proportion (87%) use the cell phone for emergencies. Only one third…of elders reported using their cell phone daily. Suggestions for improving phone design included increasing button size (50% of subjects), increasing display size (29% of subjects), increasing overall size of the cell phone (24% subjects), and decreasing the complexity of the phone.