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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: There is growing interest in computer-based assistive technology for people who experience difficulties related to impaired cognition. More knowledge is, however, needed regarding how this technology can provide support in the everyday activities in which people with cognitive impairment experience difficulties. The aim of this study was to identify in which everyday activities a specific type of computer-based and modifiable assistive technology could provide adequate support to persons who experienced…difficulties related to cognition after a stroke. Interviews were conducted with six participants who had experienced a stroke, to identify difficulties related to impaired cognition in everyday activities. The difficulties identified were matched with the assistive technology, using a new tool developed for this study; The Assistive Technology support process. The assistive technology used in the study was judged to be able to initiate the performance of a specific task and to inform about upcoming events. With the use of sensors placed in the home, the support provided related to the completion of an already initiated task or to reminders required in a specific location or after specific actions. This type of support could be used more frequently in the near future and consequently it is necessary to establish what the assistive technology available can and cannot provide as well as what decisions to make before implementation. The Assistive Technology support process could be useful in retrieving this type of information. More research into the implementation of computer-based assistive technology is required.
Abstract: Usability and accessibility are key design characteristics that enable consumers with disabilities to effectively and safely interact with mainstream products as they pursue independent living. This product usability study examines experiences of consumers with hand function limitations regarding the quality and value of a commercially available automatic jar opener. The product was designed for use by people with diverse hand functions and its development process included continuous consumer input. Findings from this longitudinal case…study include high ratings of the jar opener on usability and other indicators of quality. Consumers' reported value of the product remained consistently high throughout the study. Product use was consistent during the trial period evidencing high consumer satisfaction and product acceptance. This study attests to the potential benefits of involving consumers with disabilities in the development of products not only as a strategy to integrate inclusive design features, but also to broaden their market value. The paper also highlights the methodology and key concepts underlying the investigation of quality and value for products designed through this approach.
Abstract: Several studies have demonstrated the potential of robots as assistive tools for play activities. Through the use of robots, children with motor impairments may be able to manipulate objects and engage in play activities as their typically developing peers, thus having the same opportunities to learn cognitive, social, motor and linguistic skills. Robot use can also provide a proxy measure of disabled children's cognitive abilities by comparing their performance with that of typically developing children. This…paper reports a study with eighteen typically developing children aged three, four and five years to assess at which ages the cognitive concepts of causality, negation, binary logic, and sequencing are demonstrated during Lego robot use.
Keywords: Assistive robotics, play, cognitive development assessment
Abstract: Robots have been widely used in rehabilitation. Among the various applications, robots have been developed to assist children with motor disabilities in play and academic activities. Several studies have shown the efficacy of these robotic tools, not only for allowing children to actively participate in the activities, with direct impact on the development of their cognitive, social, and linguistic skills, but also as a means to assess children's understanding of cognitive concepts, when standard tests cannot…be used due to physical or language limitations. In this paper the use of robots for assistive play is reviewed from the perspectives of rehabilitation engineering and robot design, aiming at defining a set of desirable characteristics for such robots. Commercially available robots are then surveyed in comparison to the defined characteristics to evaluate to what extent they can be used as assistive robots for play, learning and cognitive development.
Keywords: Assistive robotics, play, cognitive development assessment, augmentative communication
Abstract: This qualitative exploratory study examines the barriers to the adoption of off the shelf cellular telephones for older people with vision, hearing, or dexterity impairments. We include the full range of factors that influence phone acquisition, use, and retention. We explore the feasibility of providing individual support to overcome learning barriers. The first stage of the study is a review of the sales process, purchase experience, and handset features available for cell phones in the Berkeley…and Oakland areas of California in mid 2007. As the industry is organized, physical accessibility cannot be separated from programmatic access and business practice. The ergonomic aspects of handset design are mediated by firmware and software that changes rapidly and varies by carrier. The US sales model for cell phones, where purchasers select a pricing plan or tariff and then a handset from a limited group, does not accommodate the needs of seniors with impairments who need low cost plans but handsets with specific groups of features, most of which are generally available, but not necessarily available on any one phone and almost never on entry level phones. It is difficult for consumers to obtain information prior to purchase about handset accessibility. Features that support access are often difficult to find in menus and difficult for seniors to use. In the second stage of the study we gave a group of twelve older people with impairments, ranging from 66–90 years of age, a cell phone, airtime, and individual support for a one-month period. The results show that older people with impairments are deterred from cell phone use as much by the confusing structure of the industry as by the lack of certain handset features. They too often sacrifice access for price. They can be supported to learn to use cell phones but further work is needed to determine the specific kinds of support needed and how this can best be delivered.