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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: We know very little about social participation following the use of an assistive technology, and nothing reagarding device designed to facilitate face-to-face communication between hearing persons and deaf people who use sign language, and cannot speak and write. A pilot on evaluating social participation following the use of a new assistive technology is proposed. Fifteen deaf adults completed a three-month field study, with pre and post intervention measures. Three standardized instruments (LIFE-H, FACS, QUEST)…were adapted for sign language interpretation and pretested. One month into the study, all participants had used the AT in 40% of ADL and 33% of social roles. AT use in life habits subsequently declined. The results for social participation showed only one significant improvement (p=0.026) after one month of AT use: the item concerning conversation with a hearing person. For functional communication, we found a significant improvement after 8 (p=0.016) and 12 weeks (p=0.012) for "social communication" only. The users were ``neither dissatisfied nor satisfied'' with the AT. Effectiveness, ease of use and follow-up services are considered critical. Methodological and technical improvements are suggested for researchers, developers, promoters and clinicians.
Abstract: This paper presents the results of clinical trials performed using two upper-limb orthotic devices for tremor suppression, developed under the Fifth Framework Project DRIFTS (Contract QLK6-CT-2002-00536). The orthoses were tested on six subjects presenting various aetiological forms of tremor. Two different strategies of tremor reduction were investigated: viscous friction and notch filtering. The results obtained from the trials suggest that ambulatory and controllable mechanical suppression of tremor by orthotic means is a…feasible intervention. The degree of tremor reduction is dependent upon the power associated with tremor. Expected reduction of tremor can be as high as 98% in severe cases. There are hints that for many persons suffering with tremor active mechanical suppression of tremor can produce a reinforcing feedback: when participants perceived and initial reduction of tremor due to the orthosis, they exhibited a further spontaneous reduction of the tremor. There are also indications in some participants that tremor can migrate from a controlled joint to other free joints.
Abstract: Using computers can lead to increased independence and an improved social network for stroke survivors. However, little is known about how and why stroke survivors are using computers at home and the barriers they encounter. The objective of this study was to gain an understanding about the experiences of stroke survivors using home computers, including the reasons stroke survivors use the computer, how patterns of computer use have changed post-stroke and any barriers or enablers to…computer use. A modified grounded theory approach was utilized. In-depth interviews and observations with six stroke survivors were conducted. The constant comparison method was used to analyze the data. Two main themes emerged from the data: connected through doing and occupational tensions and strategies. The first theme refers to the reasons why and what purposes the computer was used for, and the meaning of computer use, while the second theme highlights barriers to access to computer use and the attempts to overcome difficulties. The results of this preliminary study shed light on stroke survivors' use of computers at home, which may help guide occupational therapists working with this population.
Keywords: Computers, stroke survivors, home, internet
Abstract: The goal of this literature review is to gather, review, and summarize knowledge regarding accommodation of persons with mobility and dexterity impairments in the workplace environment and use that knowledge to inform universal design. Accommodations to the physical work environment, the use of assistive technology, changes in job requirements, and personal assistance have been noted in the literature as ways to support workers with mobility and dexterity impairments. Some of these accommodations are useful not…only to people with disabilities, but potentially all workers. Other accommodations are specialized to meet an individual's particular needs. This review provides insight and direction to future research regarding accommodations of persons with physical impairments, and the future practice of universal design in the workplace.
Abstract: Although scientific evidence shows that therapy improves movement recovery following a stroke, the duration of the reimbursed therapy available to patients is decreasing. To compensate for the reduction in personal therapy self-training procedures using robotic arms have been developed for hemiplegic patients. In this Dutch pilot study, the experiences of stroke patients and their therapists with the second prototype of a robotic arm device for ACtive REhabilitation (ACRE2) are evaluated. Positive results for…patients and therapists are reported and the development of a system that can be used at home (ACRE3) is recommended.
Abstract: Web accessibility for people with Cognitive Disabilities has generated increasing interest in the professional web development, scholarly and advocacy communities in recent years, although there is little acknowledged agreement on how to proceed. This article conducts a review of the current understanding of experts in the field as exemplified by Web design guidelines. It provides current Web design recommendations that have achieved a high degree of agreement as well as four recommendations for implementation. Twenty…existing Web design guidelines from Web accessibility experts, government and advocacy organizations were identified in an extensive literature review. Those disabilities specifically addressed by these guidelines included: cognitive disabilities (9), cognitive impairments (2), learning disabilities (4), dyslexia (3), aphasia (1), and mental retardation or intellectual disabilities (1). The authors of the Guidelines came from Australia (1), the United Kingdom (7), and the United States (12). The 20 guidelines contained 187 separate design recommendations which were combined due to duplications and organized for analysis. The top recommendations included: 1) Use pictures, graphics, icons and symbols along with text (75% agreement), 2) Use clear and simple text (70% agreement), 3) Use consistent navigation and design on every page (60% agreement), and 4) Use headings, titles, and prompts (50% agreement).
Keywords: Web accessibility, cognitive disabilities, assistive technology
Abstract: When a child is born with a motor disability, making it difficult or impossible to acquire independent locomotion, a challenging task is to find assistive compensating technology. This study addresses the motor needs of a child, Hanna, with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA II). She participated in the development of her assistive technology, with a focus on her independent locomotion and posture, during her infancy, childhood and early teens in a longitudinal and interactive design project. From…the very beginning, she expressed a strong attraction to autonomous upright mobility, in contrast to the more common sitting posture in a wheelchair. She has used different versions of the resulting powered walking aid ever since. The upright independent locomotion it has afforded has been of major importance for her self-image, independence and physical development.
Keywords: SMA, standing posture, design process, walking aid, case study