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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: BACKGROUND: Electrically powered wheelchairs (EPW) enable individuals who are not capable of walking or propelling a manual wheelchair to have independent mobility. Control devices enable users to direct the EPW to move at the desired speed and direction. OBJECTIVE: To review and appraise the current use of EPW control devices to assist clinicians when selecting the most appropriate device for the needs of individual users. METHODS: Two databases were searched returning 273 unique articles for review.…The prescription forms of the 20 EPWs available on the Scottish NHS contract were reviewed to determine availability. RESULTS: Based on four studies, the most prevalent devices were hand joystick, sip and puff and chin joystick (84%, 8% and 8% respectively). However, terminology was inconsistent, hampering comparison, and population groups non-representative. The appraisal of prescriptions forms found hand joysticks to be the standard option. Sip and puff and chin joysticks were available on 15% and 35% of EPW models respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The standard, hand joystick (position sensing and proportional) meets the control device needs of the vast majority of current EPW users. Further studies are required to quantify the needs of those unable to use the control devices that are currently available.
Keywords: Electrical powered wheelchair, control device, powered mobility, hand joystick, chin joystick, sip and puff control
Abstract: The study explores factors that facilitate the use of technology in daily life of people with dementia. An ethnographic approach was selected with open interviews, participant observation, field notes, a structured questionnaire for family members and four batteries of tests. The target group consisted of 25 people with dementia and their family carers in six communities in Finland. The main findings are: 1. A well-functioning social network is essential in integrating technology into daily life of…people with dementia. The role of the significant others is to encourage, guide and receive alarms. 2. Timeliness is another important factor. Active technology is indicated in the early and to some degree in the moderate stage of dementia, after which passive technology is recommended. The period of crisis relating to onset of the syndrome is not an optimal time for intervention. 3. Attitudes and motivation of the affected persons and their social networks greatly affect the incorporation of technology in daily life. 4. Guidance is an important element in successful introduction of technology. All members of the network should participate and the guidance should be continual, repeated at suitable intervals.
Keywords: People with dementia, technology, daily life, social network, guidance, timeliness, motivation
Abstract: This paper draws on interviews with 27 deafblind people and the mother of an autistic deafblind woman carried out as part of a larger research project on travel issues for blind, partially sighted and deafblind people to investigate and report on issues related to the use of communication and mobility assistive devices, in particular long canes, guide dogs, hearing aids and wheelchairs. The interviewees came from six different countries and both similarities and differences were found…between the experiences in the different countries. One of the main themes that arose in the context of the use of these devices was stigmatisation. This is already frequently a problem for deafblind people due to the additive or multiplicative effects of what could be seen as two distinct impairments. Consequently actual experiences or fears of being stigmatised as a result of using assistive devices led to some deafblind people who might benefit from these devices not using them. This generally makes them more dependent on other people for personal assistance and may reduce their quality of life, as such assistance is not always available. However, deafblind people are as diverse as any other population group and many of the interviewees used communication and mobility assistive devices and considered their benefits to outweigh any possible stigmatisation. Several of the interviewees used several assistive devices and had found some of them easier to accept than others.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: This paper presents the results of an evaluation of a technology-supported leisure game for people with dementia in relation to the stimulation of social behavior. OBJECTIVE: In this study we explore the additional impact of technology-supported leisure activities on behavioral outcomes of people with dementia in a nursing home and daycare setting in comparison to a traditional leisure activity. The technology-supported game aims to stimulate social behavior and interaction among participants via its…design features, including a TV, radio, telephone and treasure box. METHODS: A mixed-method research design was applied. Observations of participants (n=10, multiple rounds of observations), were conducted using the Oshkosh Social Behavior Coding scale. The bootstrapping method was used for statistical analysis, differentiating for different subgroups of participants. In addition, interviews with the activity facilitators were conducted. RESULTS: Social behavior was found to occur more often than non-social behavior during the sessions, in particular, due to commenting during the game. Participants with a low MMSE score, scored higher for non-social and non-verbal behavior. Female participants scored higher for social behavior than males. Activity facilitators stated that the technology-supported leisure activity helps them with their professional tasks. CONCLUSION: A technology-supported game can stimulate communication and social behavior among players with dementia. Moreover, it helps activity facilitators in making activities more person-centered.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Programming Lego Mindstorms robots is used for problem-based learning in science. Children with physical disabilities and complex communication needs may be limited in their ability to participate. OBJECTIVES: To involve a 12 year old student with cerebral palsy in programming Lego robots in the classroom by using her speech generating device (SGD). To evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of using the two-switch scanning mode on the SGD for programming. METHODS: The participant tested classmates' robot programs…using infrared on her SGD, and she accessed the programming software via a customized mouse manipulation page. Her participation in programming activities was measured with Goal Attainment Scaling, descriptive observations, and measures of effectiveness and efficiency. RESULTS: The participant progressed from observing classmates to independently testing robot programs in the classroom. In individualized sessions she wrote a simple program, with support. Limitations in scanning led to unwanted cursor movements and long task times. CONCLUSIONS: The participant actively participated in the robot programming activity. Actually programming was better suited to individual instruction because of her scanning inefficiency. Using the SGD for robot control affords the potential to also discuss concepts, but this novice user did not yet have the skills to utilize this aspect.
Keywords: Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), speech generating devices (SGD), mouse emulation, Lego Robots, scanning, usability