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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: Increasing constructive activity engagement and promoting independent indoor traveling are basic objectives within programs for persons with multiple disabilities. Orientation and traveling may be serious problems for these persons, particularly those with visual impairment. To reduce the impact of these problems, orientation systems have been developed. These systems rely on direction cues or feedback cues. The former systems can be plausibly used with persons with very low levels of functioning as they guide…(direct) the persons to the destinations without requiring them to take initiatives or make decisions. The latter systems can be realistically used with persons who have initiative in moving towards the destination and are efficient in correcting their direction in relation to feedback. This paper briefly presents basic orientation systems assessed with persons with multiple disabilities, examines strategies (technical solutions) adopted for promoting a self-managed (independent) use of the systems by these persons, and discusses the systems' overall applicability and practicality. Questions for future research are also examined.
Keywords: Orientation systems, direction cues, feedback cues, multiple disabilities
Abstract: Many disabled people experience considerable difficulties when driving a powered wheelchair. Disabled people who are not able to drive a powered wheelchair are seriously limited in their mobility. Several robotic assistive wheelchairs have been devised in the past. These wheelchairs are equipped with range sensors, which detect obstacles and measure the distance to the closest object. The authors are involved in this kind of projects but, although many sensors exist commercially, they never found satisfactory range…sensors for wheelchair applications. After identifying these sensor requirements, this paper presents the design of an optical ranging system, more in particular a lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) scanner for wheelchair applications. Test results are reported to show that this scanner meets the identified requirements.
Abstract: This paper reports the results of a study, which explored the attitudes of Environmental Control System users towards their systems. Semi-structured interviews with (n=14) system users in Birmingham were conducted. Using a grounded theory approach, initial data analysis revealed eight categories that represented distinct but related attitudes towards ECS. Exemplars of these categories are presented, using extracts from the interview transcripts. Further analysis of the data revealed a central theme of 'utility'…and two related concepts: 'utility transcended' and 'transcendence of utility denied'. Using these concepts, this paper demonstrates and discusses the emergence of a theory to explain the attitudes of system users. Hypotheses worthy of further exploration and testing are also highlighted. These hypotheses suggest a potential relationship between "utility" and upper limb impairment. Understanding such relationships will have important implications for future system provision and outcome measurement.
Keywords: Environmental control systems, physical disabilities, occupational therapy, grounded theory
Abstract: Unilateral neglect is a common deficit following stroke which may impactfunction, safety and visual awareness. Virtual reality (VR) may be a potential new intervention option. Using a single-subject, A^1 -B-A^2 design, four case studies explored the effects of VR on unilateral neglect. During the intervention phase (B), participants completed six, weekly, one-hour sessions of VR tasks. The outcome measures completed during the baseline (A^1) , treatment (B) and…reassessment phase (A^2) were the Behavioural Inattention Test, and the Bells test. The data were graphically represented and subsequently visually analyzed. Qualitative comments from the participants are considered along with the results. The quantitative results are inconclusive but suggest that VR may have the potential to be useful for individuals with stroke who are affected by neglect in their everyday life. Further research is warranted to substantiate these results.
Abstract: Problems with chronic low back pain (LBP) impact the lives of many working age adults. The condition can leave people frustrated when their desire to work conflicts with their need to relieve the chronic discomfort. Because physical labor can aggravate the condition, persons with LBP may seek a more sedentary type of employment, such as video display terminal (VDT) operator. Unfortunately, typical VDT workstations require the operator to sit upright, which may increase the discomfort of…an operator with LBP. Alternative computer workstations have been designed to allow the VDT operator to access the computer from a significantly reclined or supine posture. These postures have been shown to relieve some forms of LBP. This paper describes a comparison between twenty-four alternative computer workstations as potential workplace accommodations for people with LBP. Just under half (46% of the systems reviewed, are designed for use only with a laptop computer, and will not support full-size monitor and keyboard. Only 33% allow access to full-size computer components from both a reclined and a supine posture. Complexity of component adjustment and awkward positioning for ingress and egress make these systems less than optimal for accommodating people with LBP in a typical VDT workplace environment.
Keywords: Low back pain, supine computer workstation, product review