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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: History has demonstrated that the marketplace alone is not enough to ensure that telecommunications equipment and services are accessible and usable by people with disabilities. Public policy changes and legislative mandates are needed to make sure that the telephone system of today and the information superhighway of tomorrow is usable by all Americans. A survey of public policy and legislation shows that, over the years, responsibility for telecommunications access has moved from the disabled individual to the public at large to the manufacturers of equipment and, finally, to the providers of telecommunications services. The access solution has moved away…from requiring the individual to purchase additional adaptive equipment to designing in equipment and network access from the beginning (universal design). The key to equal access will be the incorporation of universal design requirements for telecommunications equipment and services into legislation.
Abstract: This article explains many of the issues surrounding the relatively new world of telephone relay service (TRS) and describes technologies that should be tested for improving TRS and reducing costs. TRS is an operator-assisted interface between text terminals and voice terminals, so that text telephones used by people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and speech impaired can attain access to the vast voice telephone network. Technologies for relaying conversations, automating call processing, and reducing call volumes are reviewed.
Keywords: Telecommunications, relay service, technology, deaf, hard of hearing
Abstract: In just the past five years, technology and policy have worked together to completely change the world of telecommunications for all of us, but particularly for deaf and hard of hearing people who had been barred from full access since the telephone network was established. Unfortunately, deaf and hard of hearing children are not being exposed to what is possible. Schools are not ready for this new world of communication capacity. Two very different communities are developing: an enriched communication environment of deaf and hard of hearing adults, and an impoverished environment of deaf and hard of hearing children. Gallaudet…University is currently conducting a project to transfer much of this technology to schools that educate deaf and hard of hearing children. The Technology Assessment Program of Gallaudet is working with five day and residential schools to provide telecommunications workstations, software customized for this application, a curriculum, training of personnel, and materials so that educators can employ telecommunications technology in a variety of ways.
Abstract: In June 1994 Draft Recommendation V.18 was approved by the International Telecommunications Union—Telecommunication Standardization Sector Study Group 14. This recommendation provides a platform for a future universal text telephone for the deaf and hard of hearing. This article first briefly describes the history of deaf telephony, which led to many diverse solutions to this problem, and then outlines the features of Recommendation V.18 that will provide a migration path toward a single international text telephone.
Abstract: During a typical day, a sighted person routinely opens mail; reads instructions and recipes, TV guides, and correspondences; selects tapes; examines invoices and bills; and looks at pictures and graphs. The blind individual has routine access to few, if any, of these. All of these printed materials are being made accessible on demand by the remote human reader system of the type we are developing, using fax machines or other telecommunications technologies to transmit images of the material to a remotely located sighted reader. We have made significant progress toward implementing non-fax video image compression/transmission for an interactive remote…reading system. The goal is to approach as closely as possible the ideal remote reader—one that would function in the same way as having a live reader in the same room as the user. Such a system would, for all practical purposes, allow the remote reader to look over the shoulder of the blind user. Another telecommunications option to remote reading under development is to augment the human reader with an automated optical character recognition system. The output of the system is converted into speech and stored in the voice mail system on the reader's computer. The sender then calls the computer to retrieve the spoken text.
Keywords: Facsimile, telecommunications, optical character recognition, video compression, video transmission
Abstract: Conventional assistive technology uses a dedicated device for each consumer, with specialized input, processing, and output components built into a single unit. This article describes a new way of providing assistive technology to people with disabilities, built on shared use of remote technical resources, based on the rapid evolution of telecommunications networks. The approach may have functional, clinical, and economic advantages in some situations.
Abstract: This article shares some of our experiences with accessible product design, identifies the challenges we faced when attempting to incorporate accessibility features into mainstream product lines, and recommends ways to improve the process of accessible design. We describe our experiences with four product categories: residential telephone products, a business telephone product line, a public card-operated telephone, and a communications assistant workstation for telecommunications relay service. In addition to describing the actual accessibility features identified and incorporated into the designs, we discuss the process used to achieve an accessible design and the factors determining if accessibility features were ultimately included.…Based on these experiences, we recommend ways to improve the process of accessible design for telecommunications products. We introduce an Electronic Industries Association (EIA) initiative, called the Seal of Accessibility, which will establish accessible design guidelines for consumer electronics products and provide a means for communicating the accessibility of products to consumers.
Keywords: Accessible design, telecommunications, disability, user interface, standards
Abstract: It is estimated that 10 percent of Americans are now using a personal computer to communicate. The primary link that facilitates this connectivity is a telecommunications system known as the Internet. How does access to the Internet benefit the rehabilitation community? There are many electronic bulletin boards, both public and private, that allow access to the Internet. Many on-line services such as CompuServ and Prodigy allow Internet access. Once persons with a disability or service providers obtain access to the Internet, they can send E-mail, join conferences that discuss their interests, and access Internet services such as Telnet, FTP, Gopher,…and World Wide Web to obtain information on many topics. For a person who has a disability, this level of communication can provide vast amounts of information on his or her disability and dialogue with others who have similar disabilities. This connectivity also provides a sense of participation in the virtual community as opposed to the feeling of being outside that is shared by many with disabilities.
Abstract: This article is the transcript of a conference call held in February 1994. The participants are both high-powered advocates of extending telecommunications to people with disabilities and high-powered users of telecommunications services. Their comments and insights are valuable to readers from the telecommunications industry, public policy arenas, and other advocates and service providers.
Keywords: Telecommunications, consumer, disability, accessible, market research