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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: With alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) people with complex communication needs (CCN) become more independent and express themselves to the fullest extent possible. In finding the best AAC solution, mobile technology and ICT (information and communications technology) provide new opportunities every day. Although a wide range of assistive technologies (AT) are available, matching person and technology (MPT) and setting the optimal parameters individually are essential. For an AAC solution to be optimal for letter-based communication it has to be easy-to-use, comfortable, and fast. OBJECTIVES: For people with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPI), one method…to interact with a computer is using head-movement-driven mouse. There are different on-screen devices available for typing via head movements, and much work has been done to compare them in terms of the time required for typing. Dasher is one of the fastest software tools with a setting option for zooming speed. An optimistic initial model (OIM) based on Markov decision process (MDP) has already been shown to optimize this zooming speed for increasing the typing efficiency of persons without SSPI. Since this reinforcement learning component has so far been tested on neurotypical users only (e.g., research assistants), in the present case study we involved a user with SSPI. Our question was whether the algorithm can optimize its own parameters in these circumstances. METHODS: To document all relevant aspects of the human-computer interaction log files, screen and webcam videos were collected. These input data were later analyzed with mathematical methods based on the OIM reward systems feedbacks. In addition, manual interpretation using semi-supervised machine video annotation was carried out for analyzing screen events and user behaviors. RESULTS: The human annotations of the recorded video data indicated that the participant had at least two different typing strategies. In contrast with the data from a previous study, in our study the artificial intelligence (AI) component was unable to find optimal settings similar to those attained when only one typing strategy was used by subjects without SSPI. CONCLUSIONS: To maximize communication efficiency, a more complex assistive tool may be more appropriate. Closer cooperation between different areas of expertise is suggested in order to achieve solutions employing various methods.
Keywords: Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), assistive technology (AT), head movement driven typing, self-improvement, matching person and technology (MPT)
Abstract: Physical disabilities minimize the participation of a person in desired activities and in the worst situation, fully prevent participation. The persons with disabilities (PwDs) have all along been forced to rely on various devices, gadgets, tools etc. to get themselves mainstreamed through such supports, collectively termed as Assistive Technologies (ATs). This research examines the current status of various ATs for PwDs in India and looks back to trace their evolution, to foresee the ATs likely to evolve by 2035 and offer a hope, to possibly reduce the gap between disabled persons and the normal to a maximum extent. Examination of…the available literature, Horizon Scanning and Patent Databases (WIPO, USPTO, and IPINDIA) has been used for secondary data and an opinion survey for primary data. Two round Delphi study has been conducted on selected 29 ATs with the help of a panel of experts (hailing from industry, R&D institutions, academia, NGO, government etc.). The experts were asked to speculate the likely time-frame of adoption/commercialization of these ATs and were provided with broad trend of evolution of technology in past decades to help them in responding. The findings of Delphi exercise, bringing out potential assistive technologies with their time-frames, have been reported in this study.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Technology-aided programs have typically been used to support either leisure or functional activity engagement. Yet, supporting both types of engagement would be highly relevant within applied contexts. OBJECTIVE: This study was aimed at assessing two versions of a technology-aided program designed to support combinations of leisure and functional activity engagement with seven participants with intellectual disability and sensory or sensory-motor impairment. METHODS: The first version was assessed with four participants and included a computer system presenting leisure categories (e.g., music and family slides), a microswitch whereby the participants could choose among those…categories and related stimuli, and a tablet device with pictorial activity instructions. The second version was assessed with three participants, who possessed only basic choice and activity skills, and presented the leisure stimuli individually and did not include the tablet. RESULTS: Participants learned to use the respective program versions and their independent leisure and activity engagement times increased from zero during baseline to means of 9-13 min and 8-15 min per session, respectively, with the program. Mean session lengths varied between 24 and 31 min. CONCLUSIONS: The program versions seem suited to support combinations of leisure and functional activity engagement in persons with multiple disabilities.
Abstract: The paper exploits an extensive quantitative case mapping to blend three strands of research: First, social innovation is considered as an approach to leverage inclusive societies. Secondly, ICT is understood as a means to empower people with activity limitations; and thirdly, the availability and accessibility of societal structures is regarded as a lens for investigating the permeability and inclusiveness of society. The analysed cases shed light on the phenomenon of “digital social innovation for inclusion” and allow first insights into their practice and characteristics. The paper illustrates a quantitative overview of the actors behind these initiatives, their structures and drivers…and barriers. In conclusion, the phenomenon of “digital social innovation for inclusion” is described in contours.
Keywords: Inclusion, social innovation, digital empowerment, digital inclusion, ICT
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Different technological alternatives are nowadays offered to persons with a severe-to-profound high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL). However, benefits of those technologies are still not clear. OBJECTIVE: To explore the benefits provided by frequency-compression (FC) or frequency-transposition (FT) hearing aids (HAs), and the electric acoustic stimulation (EAS) cochlear implant, from the perspective of users with a HFHL. METHODS: A qualitative case study research design was selected. Ten adults with a HFHL who participated in a previous FC, FT and EAS trial were enrolled. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted. Participants were questioned about their experience…with each technology. Data were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: Participants reported better speech understanding in quiet and noisy situations, plus improved high-frequency sound detection with both HAs. Some participants mentioned lower levels of listening effort and fatigue and an improvement in self-confidence, which led to increased social participation. Most participants preferred FC or FT to their own HAs. The participant who received an EAS implant reported better performances with this technology. CONCLUSIONS: From the participants’ perspective, the three technologies can deliver greater benefits than conventional amplification for people with a severe-to-profound HFHL, but the EAS implant appears as potentially more beneficial than both HAs.
Keywords: High-frequency hearing loss, hearing aids, frequency-lowering, cochlear implants, electric acoustic stimulation, qualitative research