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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: A growing number of studies of informal carers of older people reveal positive results concerning support via Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Systematic examination of factors that have a potential impact on carer outcomes are needed to inform future research. OBJECTIVE: To explore studies concerning ICT support of adult carers of older people and to identify study characteristics that have a potential impact on carer outcomes. METHODS: This integrative review includes 123 studies published since 2005. Fundamental questions for designing sensitive support interventions; ‘who, what, and how ’ were applied to a synthesis of the…results. RESULTS: Identified characteristics from the studies responding to the who question included variables of the carers, such as their relationship with the care recipient or their ethnicity. Characteristics related to the what question related to the types of interventions, and the how question concerned the different services or programs offered, the idiosyncratic needs of the carers, and the types of technologies used. CONCLUSION: Results are discussed according to micro, meso and macro levels of analysis. This extensive review can inform future studies and highlight the evidence in the area for decision makers, practitioners and/or NGOs working with innovative forms of support for carers of older people.
Keywords: Adult, aged, family caregivers, internet, review, social support, technology
Abstract: BACKGROUND: It is assumed that e-services support persons with disabilities in their everyday life by improving communication and interaction with healthcare organizations and whilst facilitating their social inclusion. AIM: The aim of this study is to examine the contribution of e-services in terms of how they diminish barriers and constraints on social inclusion. METHOD: A literature review was performed, covering the period between 2010 and 2016 (6 years). Only studies that discussed the social inclusion of people with disabilities or presented prototype solutions to this problem were included. RESULTS: The results…of this study show that there is a lack of theoretical framework which can be used to measure the effectiveness of the e-services or innovations in the area of e-services in the contexts that were examined. The existing research studies are normally generic and do not discuss whether the requirements that are imposed on a particular e-service differ depending on (i) type of disability, (ii) the ICT-maturity or skill of the end-user, or (iii) context in which the e-service will be used. In general, previous research in this area claims that e-services do assist people with disabilities access to society (defined as the community in which they live), even when no evidence is actually presented about the impact such services have in this area of the end-user’s life. CONCLUSION: The results of the present study present us with new knowledge about the types of ICT-based innovations and e-services that have been proposed to facilitate the social integration of people with disabilities.
Keywords: E-services, people with disabilities, social inclusion
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progressively impairs individual’s wayfinding ability. For older adults with AD, the decline of sensory acuity due to ageing and the deterioration of cognitive domains worsen their sense of direction. OBJECTIVE: This paper presents (1) a concept of wearable navigational assistance using haptic stimuli to help the individuals with AD for outdoor wayfinding and (2) its preliminary assessment. METHOD: A User-centered Design (UCD) with co-design methodology is applied through a survey that specifies the system requirements for the device. The survey is subcategorized into: (1) demographic of respondents, (2) acceptability,…(3) wearability, (4) setting suitability, (5) usability, and (6) general concept. The respondents were the caregivers and clinical/medical experts of AD and dementia. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The proposed concept for the device is considered relevant mainly towards the early to moderate AD patients, due to the aspects of safety, uncomplicated functions, as well as unobtrusiveness and non-stigmatizing design features. However, this intervention should be followed by continuous practices for familiarization purpose. CONCLUSION: The gathered findings from this preliminary assessment encourage the implementation of a working prototype. Improved navigability allows the good performance of activities of daily living (ADLs) and maintains the good quality of life in older adults with AD.
Abstract: The preparation of mathematical learning content for blind students does not include many elements of the implicit didactic information included in the visual layout of math schoolbooks, e.g. spatial arrangements for sequencing or relations, color-coded information, and other layout based content representation. This kind of information is an indispensable component for up-to-date math learning and teaching. Due to the limitation of other senses and assistive devices for blind people, this missing of explicit semantic mark-up of these implicit didactical elements is seen as one key reason for the disadvantages of in STEM education and related job opportunities. This paper…presents basic research on developing an approach for making this implicit information accessible by marking-up the implicit visual elements used in math schoolbooks, which goes beyond linear text. Describing and marking-up this dynamic content forms the base for our prototyping of an inclusive math-learning environment for blind students. Interactive dialogues guide the blind user and provide assistive functionalities for better managing the complexity when solving math problems using sequential audio, refreshable braille display, and other presentation and interaction methods. In this attempt, our prototype covers four basic arithmetic operations. We use the Eclipse SWT framework and Microsoft UI Automation to be in line with known accessibility concepts and skills of users. The prototypes have been evaluated both by blind and sighted persons.
Keywords: Interactive non-visual user interface, math solving process, didactics, blind
Abstract: BACKGROUND: This paper presents part of the work undertaken by the European Network for Technology Enhanced Learning in an Inclusive Society (ENTELIS) to respond to the need for bridging the digital divide. It is based on previous evidence of lack of digital skills of people with disabilities of all ages to effectively participate in the digital society. OBJECTIVE: The paper aims to present the results of an exploratory study conducted in different European countries in order to identify needs, barriers, opportunities and good practices. METHODS: Data collection included the collection of experiences and…best practices, and interviews conducted with different groups of people with disabilities of all ages and other stakeholders in five countries. RESULTS: Results emphasize the vital role of ICT-AT for independence, social integration, educational success, employment opportunities, and overall quality of life, while there seems to be heterogeneity in the way technology is considered and utilized among various groups of PwD. A number of challenges and barriers for ICT-AT competence development are also identified. CONCLUSIONS: Considerations and suggestions for further research, for policy and for practice implications are discussed, mainly focused on reducing the abandonment of ICT-AT, on responding to user’s heterogeneous needs and on strengthening facilitating factors for the acquisition of digital competencies.
Keywords: Digital inclusion, digital divide, ICT, ICT-AT, assistive technology
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Clients with intellectual disabilities benefit from a fixed daily structure due to difficulties in remembering appointments and in performing daily activities. OBJECTIVE: To develop a memory application to structure and support daily activities for clients with intellectual disabilities that contribute to independence and to provide a clear insight into the developmental process of the application. METHODS: A ‘participatory design’ (two development cycles) was used to understand users’ needs, wishes, and abilities regarding structure and support of daily activities. Using a pre- and post-test design, two pilots (n =…14) took place in a ‘real life setting’ to evaluate usability of the application and gather data for further development using observations and interviews. RESULTS: The pilots showed that the application has the potential to contribute to the independence of clients, e.g. less control needed regarding daily structure offered by formal carers. This was most evident in the last pilot because of the improved ease of use, the added value perceived by clients and formal carers and the increased focus on the implementation of the application in the care process. CONCLUSIONS: For successful integration of the memory application in the care process, well-defined personal goals of clients in the care plan are needed and carers should act according to these goals. Further research is necessary to examine the generalisation of findings.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Understanding how dynamic arm supports affect the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) in daily life situations is essential for improved prescription. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the newly developed MMAAS is a useful tool to assess the RoM at home. Secondly, to investigate differences in RoM and ADL performance with and without dynamic arm support. METHODS: Five dynamic arm support users performed nine activities with and without dynamic arm support at home. A reference group of five participants was included. Shoulder and elbow RoM were assessed for the three most…difficult tasks. RESULTS: The measurement of the elbow joint RoM appeared unreliable. In most participants shoulder RoM increased with dynamic arm support, but the magnitude of change differed. Variation was also found regarding whether people could perform ADL with and without support. CONCLUSIONS: In its current state the MMAAS is not regarded a useful tool for assessing the RoM in the domestic setting. The ability to perform ADL and RoM seem influenced by the environment, users’ needs and abilities. Future studies investigating effects and benefits of dynamic arm supports should be conducted in a broader daily life context.