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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: The paper considers the Information and Communication Technology sector to discuss some general characteristics of the activities meant to favour inclusion through the use of technology, as well as of the attitudes of actors in this sector. The paper does not claim to give a comprehensive description of the technological applications in the field of eInclusion. Rather, it focuses on a set of examples, reviews some lines of development, and uses these to explore the present situation and potential developments in the near future. Observations include: (i) technology has been very useful to improve the situation of people with activity…limitations (AT); (ii) interesting new improvements are possible using available and emerging technologies (improvement of present AT and new products, services and applications); (iii) however, innovation is not very well served due to internal problems in the field; (iv) Design for All could be very useful, but there are business difficulties for its deployment; (v) despite this, many mainstream developers are moving in the direction of producing new products and living environments that will be more usable by people with activity limitations and facilitate their inclusion.
Keywords: Assistive Technologies, Design for All, eInclusion
Abstract: Technology that assists persons with disabilities has been offered since long in the European countries. Many companies have been involved in the different support areas mainly for restoration and enhancement of hearing, vision, mobility and handling or assistance of activities of daily living. With the constitution of the common European market the set up and interaction of such companies in the market has gained attention on the background of the harmonisation process. The HEART study  presented a first look at the situation based on previous activities of e.g. COST 219  and the CORE project . HEART study line…B  stated that “the European assistive technology market is fragmented because of geographical, cultural and political differences”. It identifies problematic issues and market conditions of the early 1990s. With the development of the European Union and on the background of growing economies, of changing societies, of change of social legislation and the enormous progress of ICT technology subsequent investigations looked at the market from different perspectives [5-7]. Actually, market change has been observed by the studies but overall also many problems still have remained and not all potential is yet used. This paper makes an attempt to highlight the important aspects of the various study results and tries to come up with preliminary conclusions to be fed into the further discussion process for the future.
Abstract: Seventeen years ago the European Commission funded HEART (Line C) project released a report on rehabilitation technology service delivery, describing the processes from 16 countries and making recommendations for improvement by market stimulation and quality assurance. Service delivery of rehabilitation technology, now more commonly referred to as Assistive Technology (AT), has advanced since the 1994 report. Highlights include the establishment of the EASTIN network of AT databases, expansion of systems that facilitate user choice, and a stronger sector identity promoted through the AAATE. Policies and attitudes toward disability have also changed at a societal level over the intervening…years, reflected in key documents such as the UN Standard Rules, the ICF, the UN CRPD and the European Disability Strategy 2010âĂŞ2020. People with disabilities can expect to be provided with information about and access to technologies and services enabling their participation and integration in society. Yet discussion about issues including the ageing population, keeping up with technological advances and containing costs in health and social care budgets, is not new. The message is the same as it was in 1994; we need to work together to meet the challenges. The difference now is that, with progress slower than expected, the voices are more urgent. Aim: This paper reflects the advances in service delivery since the HEART study, the impact of European policy and strategy on development in the AT field, and the current challenges the sector faces. It is intended to stimulate further collaboration and improvements in European AT service delivery. Methods: National contacts from the AAATE were surveyed about the current status of AT service delivery in their respective countries, and asked to comment on the improvements since 1994 as well as the new and continuing challenges and priorities. Survey responses were analysed and recommendations made for further discussion. Results: 13 responses were received, all reporting improvements in elements of AT service delivery, differing in focus across countries. Users frequently have access to AT information but their involvement in decision-making varies. The seven essential steps and six quality criteria for service delivery from the HEART study retain relevance for most respondents, but their use in practice remains limited. The participation of AT practitioners and services in professional development and networking varies from individually organised activities to requisite programmes, and from local to international involvement. Conclusion: European countries have AT service delivery systems that vary in their structure and sophistication, but share some common challenges in meeting the needs of AT service users. Several recommendations are made to inform further discussion and encourage the various stakeholders in AT policy and practice to work collaboratively in improving service delivery across Europe.
Keywords: Assistive Technology, service delivery, quality, Europe
Abstract: In European research projects in the field of technology and disability the interest in policy and legislation can be seen to have emerged in the 1980s. Over the years, several project researchers have analysed the development of European policies and legislation, as have other actors. Parallel with project activities, this paper discusses the development and main stages of policy actions and legislation from the late 1980s up to 2010 in such key areas as are relevant with regard to accessibility to the Information Society in the European Union. Issues discussed include equality and non-discrimination, work and employment, information and communication…technologies, protection of privacy, public procurement, copyright, e-services and the provision of assistive technologies. A wide range of normative measures, from binding legislation to soft law and standards, have been published in the European Union. In their drafting and implementation, legitimate interests should be balanced in order to achieve sustainable solutions.
Abstract: For many years in the modern era, care for persons with severe functional impairment or disability also implied respecting their person, their rights for self-determination and autonomy. To support autonomy many types of assistive equipment have been developed. They are often very specialized, technology-intensive devices for which the market is relatively small. Increasing this market through internationalization brings up immediately the question of standardisation of the technical aids and services. In this contribution we will present an overview of the standardization activities over the last twenty years in the domain of assistive technology and design-for-all (DfA) solutions.
Keywords: Standardisation, design for all, assistive technology, procurement, background info, user involvement
Abstract: Over the last twenty to twenty-five years 'Design for All' principles and practices including Assistive Technologies have been collected into formal and informal courses which have been used to train designers of Information and Communication products and systems. The aim of this paper is to describe the relevant changes occurring in training and education in the design and use of technology. The development of courses and materials has been supported by a number of EU funded initiatives including HEART, DAN, IDCnet and Design for All@eInclusion. In addition there have been individual responses to the demands for training courses…in higher education and we include five case studies from around Europe: Greece, Austria, Czech Republic, Norway and UK. These show what can be achieved and act as beacons for continuing progress. EU and national initiatives to support digital inclusion are trying to address the needs of all those who are subject to social disadvantage as a consequence of age and disability as well as other factors such as low educational achievement, poverty and living in remote rural areas. Applying Design for All principles offers the opportunity of designing systems that are better matched to the existing needs of those who are technologically disadvantaged. However progress towards developing more specialist courses or more fully integrated Design for All principles in mainstream technology courses remains slow. The latest initiatives include the development of a curriculum for professional training and this offers an important alternative educational route, adding knowledge of Design for All to those with established technical skills.
Keywords: Assistive Technology, Design for All, higher education, inclusive design, product design, universal design
Abstract: This article presents the initial results from the first road-mapping event organised on the theme technology-transfer in the field of assistive and ICT products by the FP7 Coordination Action CARDIAC (Coordination Action in R&D in Accessible and Assistive ICT). The paper will first of all set out the context of technology transfer within the field accessible and assistive ICT products before going on to describe the SDDP (Structured Dialogic Design Process) methodology employed to generate the roadmap. The article will conclude with an initial analysis of the roadmap and some suggestions as to the next steps that need to be…taken to enhance technology transfer in this field.
Abstract: When the HEART (Horizontal European Activities in Rehabilitation Technology) project presented its results to its Honorary Council in November 1994 at Saltsjöbaden outside Stockholm, it was with a sense of pride and knowledge that the work done amounted to a unique investigation into the field of assistive technology in Europe and in the world. Twenty-one partners from twelve countries had collected information for two years, covering the requested areas of the study: standardisation, testing, certification, industry, service delivery, legislation, economics, education, research and development. This paper will follow up that era from the perspective of the…Action Plan. Not because we are nostalgic about times gone, but because we believe that there is something to be learned from what happened and what did not. What were the forces influencing the actual developments, promoting them or blocking them? What was achieved and what remains to be done in the future?
Keywords: Assistive technology, HEART, e-inclusion, European policies, research and development