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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 article introduces the results of an evaluation of a voice recognition system used as a tool for computer access in dictation activities. The software was applied to three groups: motor-disabled people suffering severe speech disorders; motor-disabled people without speech difficulties and a third, control group of non-disabled people. We found evidence that the tool results are acceptable, as task performance improves as both the subject and the system receive training. The system showed similar performance…for the three groups. It also had an intrinsic rehabilitating value for those with speech disorders, as the system's feedback forced them to improve their pronunciation.
Abstract: This study investigated if a mobile video telephone may facilitate distance communication for persons with impaired hearing, and how users' speech recognition performance is associated with difficulty ratings. Ten persons with impaired hearing participated. A mobile video telephone was used to record sentences and visual-contextual cues. Sentences were presented visually, auditorily, and audiovisually; and both with and without visual-contextual cues. The results showed that audiovisual presentation modality and visual-contextual cues together significantly…enhanced speech recognition, and that both audiovisual presentation modality and visual-contextual cues by themselves gave tendencies toward significance. Also, speech recognition and difficulty ratings were significantly correlated over all conditions. It was concluded that mobile video telephones may today already enhance speech recognition for individuals with impaired hearing, but for substantial effects, audiovisual synchronization needs to be improved.
Keywords: Hearing impairment, hearing, speechreading, cues, communication aids
Abstract: This exploratory study investigated the use of the Cyberlink with two 4- and 5-year-old non-verbal children with severe cerebral palsy. The Cyberlink is a computer interface which reads voltage at the user's forehead from brain waves, minute facial muscle movements, and eye movements. It has been studied with adults diagnosed with severe neuromotor disorders but has not been investigated with young children. For this study, a training program was developed to teach "clicking" of a mouse…cursor and cursor control for play, preliteracy, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Results indicated that both subjects learned to control the cursor for "clicking." The child with higher cognitive-linguistic skills also achieved horizontal control of the cursor. Individualization of the stimuli presented and flexibility of the Cyberlink software appear to be key elements in the success of the training program.
Abstract: An alternative PC pointer device (PC mouse) which uses surface Electromyography (EMG) signals as input was ergonomically tested on users with disabilities. The EMG mouse was developed within the framework of the European IPCA Project (Intelligent Physiological Navigation and Control of Web-based Applications). The purpose of this project was to make access to the Information Society easier for people with disabilities. Fifteen persons with computer experience took part in the study. Seven of them belonged to…a representative sample of the Target Group of Users (TGU) with severe disabilities and eight belonged to a control group (CG). The ergonomics of the EMG mouse were evaluated for the frontal, masseter and trapezius muscles by means of a questionnaire and an application developed in Java™ in which thirteen random targets had to be reached with the mouse. All the participants were able to use the system with at least one muscle. No differences in performances were found between the TGU and the CG. A fifteen-minute training session was sufficient to obtain good performance. The frontal presented the best performance of the three muscles under consideration. The degree of effort was perceived to be highest in the case of the trapezius muscle. An alternative EMG-based mouse system was shown to be a feasible alternative interface for people with disabilities.
Abstract: The Input Device Agent (IDA) is being designed to improve computer access interventions for people with disabilities. This paper describes how IDA makes recommendations for scan period in row-column scanning systems and empirically evaluates the appropriateness of those recommendations. Two groups of subjects (8 people who were either able-bodied or had spinal cord injuries and 6 individuals with severe physical disability secondary to cerebral palsy) performed a single switch scanning task in four blocks of…trials. In each trial, subjects were asked to select a target letter from a scanning matrix, using a single switch. Results suggest that IDA can recommend an appropriate fixed scan period for single switch scanning. In an absolute sense, participants' speed, accuracy, and subjective ratings in the IDA condition support this conclusion. In relative terms, participants' performance was at least as good for the IDA-selected scan period as for the self-selected scan period.
Keywords: Alternative computer access technology, one-switch row-column scanning, assessment
Abstract: Increasingly, electronic assistive technologies are enabling access to work and leisure pursuits for people with severe and complex disabilities. Despite this, there is limited published information about technology improving access to music composition and performance for people with severe disabilities, particularly in therapeutic applications of music within health and education services. This paper presents the results of a survey of British music therapists' attitudes towards and experiences with applying electronic music technologies…in clinical work. Respondents included those who had experience of applying such technologies in their work as well as those who had not. The findings reveal that the primary barrier for incorporating these tools involves a lack of training at an introductory level and skills development at a more advanced level. Most particularly, training is needed in how to incorporate electronic technologies appropriately within the therapeutic context to meet client need. Information about which clients would benefit is also needed. The results suggest that further exploration is warranted into the application of electronic music technologies in clinical music therapy, particularly those technologies using alternative control interfaces.
Keywords: Music, music therapy, complex disability, electronic assistive technology, MIDI
Abstract: This study investigated the possibility of using Information Visualisation (IV) in the user interface of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems. AAC systems exist to assist people to overcome communication handicaps. Computer-based AAC systems can contain stored communication material for people with impaired communication to retrieve and use during interaction. As the size of the stored information corpus in an AAC system increases, the task of searching and retrieving items from that corpus…will become more demanding, which will make it less easy for someone to successfully access and use such material. IV has therefore been investigated here as a way of accessing AAC content. A prototype visualisation interface was developed as a means of retrieving stored biographical text in an AAC context. Trial of this prototype showed that it was possible for people to successfully retrieve the stored information with the IV-based user interface, indicating that an IV-based interface could have potential within AAC. Further work could be pursued to investigate performance with larger corpora and alternative visualisation metaphors; alternative metaphors (using timelines, for example) may be preferred by different people who use AAC.
Keywords: Information visualisation, user interfaces, augmentative and alternative communication, assistive technology, human computer interaction