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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: It is common today to provide a timer attached to the stove for home-dwelling older adults with cognitive impairment or dementia. When the health care system provides assistive technology, different professionals are involved, and their views influence their actions. This study aims to illuminate the reasoning and views of different professionals involved in providing stove timers and supporting older adults with cognitive impairment or dementia at home, and to examine how their views guided their actions. Interview data were gathered in focus groups with mixed professionals and home service aides. Findings show that all informants agreed on the purpose…of the device being to ensure safety, and on the importance of timing and clients' motivation. However, their views and actions differed with regard to their clients as stove timer users, particularly related to a/issues of teaching and learning, b/ responsibility, c/ who the user is, and d/ what the stove timer is. Little attention was given to the process when a person was to become a user of the device. Hence, the device could bring about unwanted consequences, rather than protection, and the core category “From a mutual protective goal towards uncertain ends” was formulated.
Keywords: Assistive technology, cognitive impairment, dementia, focus groups, home modification, older adults, professional issues, timer device for stoves
Abstract: A useful assistive computer input device owning keyboard and mouse functions designed to assist quadriplegics is proposed in this paper. Users can operate the computer through a nipple switch with Morse code encoding. Because of the difficulty with keeping a stable typing speed and ratio of Morse code, the fuzzy algorithm is applied to solve this problem, as it recognizes the unstable Morse code. The proposed device is mainly constructed with a microcontroller, which implements several tasks: 1) Universal Serial Bus (USB) task; 2) Mouse task; 3) Keyboard task; 4) Morse code task. Since the proposed device only needs a…few common components, we can lower the cost of the proposed device and design it to reach a small size (50 × 25 × 10 mm) in accordance with actual requirements. In our experiment, the three subjects, quadriplegics, who had been trained in three days could smoothly operate the functions of the mouse and could type at least 15 English letters per minute after a course of two weeks training. With the increase of training time, the fastest typing speed one of the subjects could achieve was 63 English letters per minute. This device is one of the most convenient assistive computer input device for quadriplegics.
Keywords: Assistive device, quadriplegic, nipple switch, Morse-code, fuzzy algorithm, USB
Abstract: The article describes the methodology and psychometric evaluation of an assistive technology (AT) outcomes measurement tool, the Usability Scale for Assistive Technology-Wheeled Mobility module (USAT-WM), as a tool to capture user-centered usability of wheeled-mobility devices. The construction of the USAT-WM was driven by a qualitative inquiry focusing on the experiences of users of wheeled mobility devices. The interview content was coded and nearly 400 indicators pertaining to usability of wheeled-mobility devices were assimilated to construct a preliminary version of the USAT-WM. The content validity of the USAT-WM was evaluated by a panel of clinicians in the field of wheeled-mobility. The…findings from the content validation process were utilized to revise the USAT-WM. A field-test of the USAT-WM was conducted by administering it to 70 individuals who used power wheelchairs (PWCs) for mobility. A preliminary principal component analysis of the instrument sections was performed, and based on the item loading a subsequent factor analysis was conducted to establish a 50-item version of the USAT-WM with seven subscales: home usability; workplace/school usability; community usability; outdoor usability; ease of use; seating; and safety. Internal consistency Cronbach's alpha values for the seven subscales ranged from 0.77 to 0.91 and 0.90 for the total score of the USAT-WM. The test-retest and alternate-form reliability of the USAT-WM scores correlated at 0.85 (p < 0.01). The convergent validity correlations of the USAT-WM with the Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with Assistive Technology (QUEST2.0) and the Psychosocial Impact of Assistive Devices Scale (PIADS) were found to be 0.55 (p < 0.01) and 0.30 (p < 0.01) respectively.
Abstract: Early intervention through the use of a powered wheelchair can meliorate the developmental experience of children with mobility impairment. It is therefore important to design an effective training and assessment strategy to facilitate the potentials of each child in readiness to drive the device. The use of virtual reality (VR) technology for wheelchair training purposes is therefore considered. The skills acquired during training in a virtual reality system should be observable in the functional activities of the learner. It is necessary to evaluate the degree and the permanence of the skills learnt from the virtual environment to other activities outside…the training environment. The mode of evaluation applied during conventional wheelchair training could provide the basis upon which permanence of skills is determined after training in virtual reality. Thus, an induction factor is proposed as a measure of the transfer of powered wheelchair control skills from virtual reality to the functional activities of daily living by the learner. The outcomes show that virtual reality technology could offer an appropriate means of providing powered wheelchair training that can be tailored to the needs of the learner.
Abstract: Children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy (hemiplegia) have difficulty performing motor tasks with their hemiplegic upper extremity (UE). A virtual reality therapy home-based system (VRT-Home) using a Sony PlayStation 2 equipped with an “EyeToy” video camera was adapted for children to practise hemiplegic hand and arm movements and the system's preliminary usability was evaluated. To use the VRT-Home, participants sit in a chair, hold down a button that occupies their non-hemiplegic side and keeps the system on, and perform movements with their hemiplegic UE to play fun, immersive, games in virtual environments. Supervised test sessions with five child participants found that…the system successfully elicited targeted hand/arm movements of the hemiplegic UE, particularly reaching activities that involve the shoulder and elbow. A further home usability study with five participants showed, through usage logging and caregiver and child satisfaction surveys, that the intervention with the VRT-Home was an enjoyable way to practise hemiplegic arm movements at home.