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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: Research is scientific when the methods used are replicable and the data produced are valid. The most significant distinction in research methodology relates to the extent to which research employs quantitative or qualitative methods. Quantitative research is proposed as being primarily deductive in nature while qualitative research is inductive. An analogy is drawn from control systems theory wherein quantitative research is like an “open-loop” system while qualitative research has the elements of a “closed-loop” feedback system. The point is made that neither methodology is necessarily more scientific than the other.
Keywords: Research, scientific research, quantitative research, qualitative research
Abstract: The Vermont RERC for Low Back Pain was established in 1983 by the NIDRR. It is the only federally funded center for research in low back pain, recognized as the most costly and disabling musculoskeletal impairment. About 80% of American adults experience back pain that impairs their activity at some time. The effects of back disorders are especially grave in the workplace, and employers bear much of the high cost of compensation. Most injuries are associated with work, and represent the second most common cause of work absence. The highest rates of back injuries occur in occupations requiring heavy…manual labor, repeated lifting, static positions, especially in awkward or unsupported postures, and long-term exposure to vehicle vibration. Knowledge about risk factors, rehabilitation strategies, and workplace accommodations can help workers with back disorders remain on the job or return to work quickly. The Vermont RERC is a multidisciplinary center. Recent projects include prediction of disability, spinal instability, material handling, and vibration. In 1993, the Center began work on engineering design projects in the areas of posture, seating, vibration, material handling, and workplace assessment; clinical and workplace intervention studies on the effectiveness of a passive motion backrest, a biofeedback corset, and various exercise regimens; and a statewide program to improve medical care of back-injured workers. The Vermont RERC's Information Services Division provides a range of information services to the public and to professionals in the fields of back research and back care, including literature searches, laboratory tours, and public workshops. The Center also provides rehabilitation engineering and ergonomic consulting services to business and industry.
Keywords: Rehabilitation engineering, low back pain, worksite assessment, worksite accommodation, low back research, assistive technology
Abstract: This article summarizes rehabilitation engineering research in blindness, low vision, and multisensory loss being undertaken at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. Some of the recent outcomes and impacts of this research are discussed, and a summary of current projects is given. Some of these research projects are focused directly on development of specific technology and devices for the blind and visually impaired, while others produce new scientific knowledge and techniques that improve rehabilitation strategies. The research program, therefore, has both direct and indirect impact on the consumer.
Keywords: Blind, deaf-blind, sensory aids, low vision, rehabilitation engineering research
Abstract: This article provides an overview of the major projects of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Aging (RERC-Aging). The RERC-Aging, housed at the University at Buffalo's Center for Assistive Technology, addresses research, device development, consumer and professional education, and service-related projects, focusing on the needs of elders with disabilities.
Keywords: Aging, assistive technology, home modifications
Abstract: The Applied Science and Engineering Laboratories (ASEL) is a joint research and development facility of the University of Delaware and the Alfred I. duPont Institute. The program has evolved to provide comprehensive support for a variety of research projects that seek to improve the use of assistive technology by persons with disabilities. The broad research issues addressed by the ASEL include augmentative communication, rehabilitation robotics, speech disorders, telecommunication, human-machine interaction, and computer access. In addition, major areas of emphasis include assistive technology public policy and undergraduate and graduate education. The underlying belief that the ASEL is responsive to several…constituencies promotes an ongoing effort to engage consumers and manufacturers in the planning and execution of research and education efforts. These activities promote outcomes that are relevant to the user needs that define the research, and are likely to be effectively transferred into commercially available products.
Abstract: The RERC on Technology for Children with Orthopedic Disabilities is located on the grounds of the Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center, Downey, CA. Funding was initiated in November 1990, and there are currently nine active projects. Accomplishments and expected outcomes of these projects are highlighted, and four of the projects are described in greater detail. These four have to do with improving grip in children's terminal devices, determining cognitive readiness of young children for powered mobility, mainstreaming children who are nonverbal into regular education, and documenting when it is appropriate to prescribe integrated controllers for wheelchairs and other powered equipment.
Keywords: Children with disabilities, prostheses, orthoses, assistive technology, power wheelchairs, mainstreaming
Abstract: The Centre for Studies in Aging (CSiA) applies technology to problems commonly encountered by elderly people. Our research and development projects in assistive devices focus on the prevention of falls and maximization of mobility. Two “moving rooms” are used to study postural control and to conduct ergonomic experiments to explore environmental factors such as handrails. We develop assistive devices with extensive involvement of consumers and industry. Products that have been transferred to the commercial sector include grab bars, toilet equipment, an accessible bathtub, walking aids, wheelchairs, and a portable lifting system.
Keywords: Aging, mobility, assistive devices, falls, posturography
Abstract: This contribution describes the Rehabilitation Engineering Department activities at The Hugh MacMillan Rehabilitation Centre, Toronto, Canada. The department undertakes a broad range of research and developmental activities in technologies pertinent to persons with physical disabilities. The contribution describes a variety of developmental activities including adaptive seating, computer accessibility, environmental control, gait and movement analysis, powered mobility, and prosthetics and orthotics. The projected impact on end users and funding aspects for each project are delineated.
Keywords: Computer access, environmental control, gait and movement analysis, physical disability, prosthetics, powered mobility, seating