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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 results are presented of the SIVA research project "Technical Aids and Methodologies to facilitate Play by Children with Motor Impairments" (2000–2003). The project has been launched with the scope of improving learning of children with motor impairment by letting them directly interact with their environment through play. For the 6 children belonging to the study group individualised solutions to access play and toys have been studied and experimented. An on-purpose playroom has been…equipped with the needed technological solutions; individualised educational programs have been developed and fulfilled. The planning of the project as well as its results are here discussed within the methodological framework of Action-Research.
Abstract: The aim of this project is to explore how children with physical disabilities could use a toy robot system for autonomous playing. Children with physical disabilities have difficulties interacting with the material environment and they have fewer possibilities for autonomous play. This paper reports the developmental process of a robot system and results of the first user trials with this system and the target group. Working with this toy robot system allows children with physical disabilities…to independently manipulate the real objects in a play situation. Future development is outlined.
Keywords: rehabilitation robots, play for children with physical disabilities, robot assistance, human-machine-interface
Abstract: This article is based on several studies conducted in the ICT field focussing on children with severe disabilities and their computer use. Topics of interest include how computers are used by children in general, and especially by children with severe disabilities. How effective is technology as support for child development and in daily activities? The main focus is on play and communication/social interaction for child development. The key question is if and how computers are the…solution to support development in children in need of special support.
Keywords: computers, children with disabilities, special needs, ICT, play, communication, social interaction
Abstract: This paper presents a follow up study of the analysis of eight users' performance along the ALDICT project. Users were classified concerning communication and computer usage in three different levels (high, medium and low). Each participating country chose 6 Mentally Impaired users, 2 from each level. In order to characterize their performance concerning communications and computer skills, an observation methodology was developed and data was collected in four different project moments. Results showed an improvement…concerning computer usage and communication skills. The programme created the possibility to use different types of graphic signs. However, it seems that the e-mail programme did not become part of the users' everyday life as a distance communication tool.
Abstract: This study investigated the impact of Bliss-based computer augmented communication (CAC) on the daily communication and activities of six severely disabled speech-impaired children and youngsters – from the point of view of the children and youngsters, and their discussion partners and therapists. The study investigated CAC during the first year of its use in real life settings. The implementation process of CAC was highly individual and context dependent. During the study all of the speech-impaired participants…learned to operate their CAC devices. Their initial enthusiasm began to decline three to six months after the participants received their devices. At the end of the study year, the CAC devices were hardly used for face-to-face communication, but they were used mainly for educational purposes, written communication, or play and leisure. The main reasons for not using the CAC devices were their poor usability, slow operation speeds and insufficient vocabularies, as well as a lack of related services. The speech-impaired children considered the CAC devices important for them and primarily helpful for schoolwork and play.
Keywords: alternative and augmentative communication, computer augmented communication, assistive technologies, speech-impaired children and youngsters, user perspective, qualitative research
Abstract: This study investigated the impact and importance of Bliss-based computer augmented communication (CAC) on the daily communication and daily activities of six severely disabled speech-impaired children and youngsters – from the point of view of the children and youngsters, their discussion partners and occupational and speech therapists. The study also investigated the services related to the implementation and use of these CAC devices, which are the focus of this article. The study showed that CAC requires…a large input of services. The indirect service input was substantial. The study found limitations in the organisation and implementation of CAC services. These findings may at least partly account for the children's and youngsters' limited progress in using the CAC devices which was reported in the previous paper.
Keywords: augmentative and alternative communication, computer augmented communication, assistive technology, occupational therapy, speech therapy
Abstract: This brief report discusses Information and Communication Technology (ICT), a contemporary phenomenon that can be said to change and affect our life patterns and our opportunities in many situations. A question is what experiences and needs parents and children with disabilities have and how these needs have been created. How do they experience ICT and what role does ICT have in their lives? What is included in the messages contributed by parents and children thus becomes…central. The results show that certain skills learned via the computer can lead to social gains, e.g. play and communication with peers. Another result is that new technology can help the child to show his/her skills.