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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: Accurate assessment and provision of switching technology allows children with physical and multiple disabilities the opportunity of reaching their full potential within chosen occupations, particularly schooling. Senior occupational therapists from Novita Children's Services designed the Novita Switch Record Form (NSRF) to measure small changes in children's switching skills over time. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to determine the content validity, inter-rater reliability and usability of the NSRF. METHODS: Six expert occupational therapists analyzed the NSRF by means of a content validity questionnaire. In addition, 24 occupational therapists watched a YouTube…video of approx. 5 minutes of a child who used 2 different switches at the same time. No background information was available of the child and occupational therapist in the video. The occupational therapists used the NSRF to assess the switching skills of the child and completed a usability questionnaire that measured the usability of the NSRF. RESULTS: The NSRF has acceptable content validity in regards to its relevance and representativeness of switching skills, but has poor clarity. Poor inter-rater reliability was found. Feedback from usability testing indicated the NSRF was a useful tool that would assist therapists to assess switching skills. CONCLUSIONS: It is recommended that the NSRF, user guide and a training package be further developed and tested to improve clarity and reliability.
Abstract: Sponsors and scholars engaged in applied technological R&D are increasingly challenged to demonstrate evidence that their project outputs are adopted by stakeholders outside of academia. Potential knowledge users in the Assistive Technology field include clinicians, consumers, manufacturers, policy makers and information brokers. This paper first summarizes prior work to create the LOKUS instrument, a web-based tool designed to survey the level of knowledge use by these stakeholders. It then explores the value of the instrument for measuring change in knowledge use over time.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: More care tasks are transferred to the social environment to cope with an aging society. However, informal caregivers can become burdened and interventions are needed to support them. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to explore the perceived burden of informal caregivers and how they currently cope with caregiver burden. In addition, we explored their ideas about potential solutions to diminish their burden, in order to define starting points to facilitate elderly people's ability to live longer independently in their own homes. METHODS: Our mixed methods study consisted of a paper-and-pencil-based survey (N= 30)…followed by qualitative interviews (N= 8). RESULTS: Main sources of burden: time-consuming and exhaustive nature of caring, becoming totally absorbed by the caregiving situation, a perceived lack of support, concerns about well-being and safety of care recipients. Main solutions: living day by day, creating a strict time schedule and clear task division, use of elderly daycare, institutionalization, home adaptations, use of supportive homecare and volunteers. CONCLUSION: Creating awareness of the added value of using technology in informal care caregivers is needed in order to enable caregivers to provide longer informal care to their relatives. They have to try the technological support opportunities in practice, and they need examples of applications and experience stories of peers.
Keywords: Caregiver burden, independently living elderly, informal care, mixed methods, user-centered design
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Graphic symbols have been traditionally used in special education schools, but with inclusion on the education agenda their usage has been introduced in many mainstream schools as well. However, there is scant literature exploring the factors that influence the implementation of these symbols as a whole school approach. OBJECTIVE: To uncover the factors that promote or impede the use of graphic symbols usage at the whole school level in inclusive primary schools. METHODS: Two inclusive primary schools, in England and Cyprus, were identified via a postal survey. Following the phenomenology of pedagogy,…the data were collected through semi-structured interviews, close observations, visual evidence of symbol use and the researcher keeping a reflective journal. The data were subject to thematic analysis with the themes being drawn from the aide-mémoire. RESULTS: Factors that promote the usage of graphic symbols are the knowledge and expertise of those using them and the leader's good managerial skills and the latter's professional role. Factors that can impede the usage of graphic symbols include the classroom teachers' negative attitudes and lack of time. CONCLUSION: Individuals who are graphic symbol champions need to be given the authority to influence existing practices in the schools.
Keywords: Graphic symbols, special education, inclusive education, special educational needs coordinator (SENCo), classroom teachers
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Personnel of Finnish Assistive Technology (AT) centers noticed in their discussions a lack of specific education for those working AT services. They nominated a group which included representatives of universities, AT centers and national authorities. The group did background questionnaires about intended education, its content and length. Three universities started educational programme on Assistive Technology aiming to introduce new methods to develop user-centered work in the organization's services and learning by doing at work with their superiors. This educational programme was 30 ECTS and lasted 10 months. RESULTS: Based on surveys and discussions the educational…programme for AT personnel was planned and it was funded by Ministry of Education and Culture. Additionally, based on the feedback and experience of the completed education it is suggested to develop a joint European education with national elements in it.
Abstract: The conception and rehabilitation of apartments for people with disabilities, using computer simulation methods, are relatively recent. This paper aims to present a new method of assessing a wheelchair user's capacity to have access to swinging doors, as an example. The accessibility assessment is achieved by determining the adequate maneuvering clearances at doorways for a wheelchair user to open, cross and close, easily, a swinging door. The user's upper body deficiencies are taken into consideration in several wheelchair designs. The results obtained revealed that our method may help designing and rehabilitating apartments for this category of people, while increasing their…autonomy and decreasing the risks they may be exposed to.
Keywords: Accessibility, handling element, wheelchair, wheelchair mobility space, person with disabilities, wheelchair user, inverse kinematics, swinging doors, wheelchair maneuvering clearance