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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: The pandemic has affected every facet of human life. Apart from individual’s psychological and mental health issues, mobility, access and communication with high risk infection is a challenging situation. People with disabilities are more vulnerable to infections. The new changes in our social lifestyle (social distancing, limiting touch) can profoundly impact the day-to-day life of people with disabilities. In this paper, we will briefly discuss the situation faced by individuals with disabilities, some known remedies, and yet to be identified and curated technological remedies; the impact due to transition of special education toward online mode, and tips and tricks for…better utilization of work from home concept by people with disabilities. Accessibility must be universal, accommodate all and encourage inclusivity. As rightly said by Helen Keller, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”; subsequently, going by the demands of the time, we should contribute towards the universal design approach by supporting people with disabilities and committing to the changes required in disability care to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: In the tourism industry, people with disabilities (PwD) are frequently excluded from certain activities. The Internet is one of the most used information sources for planning tourism trips. However, the level of accessibility of information disseminated by the tourism industry through websites is still very low. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to explore the existence of diversity in Web accessibility in the tourism industry. METHODS: A systematic literature review method was used for the identification, selection, and evaluation of the published research on Web accessibility in the tourism industry. A set of 40…papers obtained from relevant scientific databases, and complemented with a snowballing effect, was synthesized and analyzed. RESULTS: Low levels of diversity of Web accessibility were found in the different tourism activities analyzed. The majority of studies published in this field are relatively recent and both manual and automated methods were employed. Web accessibility failures were mainly related to lack of connectivity with assistive technologies, complex layout, and navigation difficulties. CONCLUSION: The results obtained in this systematic literature review provide important contributions to increase knowledge of Web accessibility in the tourism industry. Moreover, practical and theoretical contributions can help Web developers creating more accessible tourism websites.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Many studies have been developed to explore and better understand the interaction between individuals and technological resources in the context of special education. These studies show that Information and Communication Technologies, and more specifically digital games, have the potential to improve the learning process of children with disabilities. OBJECTIVE: The main purpose of this paper was to develop a literature review in order to identify the benefits of the use of Serious Games (SG) to the literacy process of children with disabilities and learning difficulties. METHODS:…Previous studies related to the use of Serious Games (SG) in the literacy process of children with disabilities and learning difficulties were identified and analyzed. Considering the expressions, keywords and criteria used to select the papers, the sample was comprised of 25 studies. RESULTS: The main results show that SG, when used as assistive technologies, contribute to the literacy process, since children usually feel motivated to play the games and learn. Moreover, we identified that to benefit the literacy process, games need to be easy to use, challenging, enjoyable and include feedback, reinforcements and interactive resources. CONCLUSIONS: The literature indicates that the use of SG can stimulate engagement and that interactive activities can contribute to the literacy process of children with disabilities and learning difficulties.
Keywords: Serious games, information technology, disability, special education, literacy
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Assistive technology has been a boon for children with specific learning disabilities (SLDs) as it bridges the gap between them and their peers without SLDs. Despite the vast emphasis on the use of AT and speedy propagation of AT tools, yet more research is required on actual usage of AT. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the study is to identify the most significant barriers to the usage of AT by children with specific learning disabilities and suggest various measures to deal with it. METHODS: To accomplish the study interviews were conducted with special…education teachers of schools in India to find out the major barriers toward the utilisation of AT. First, Qualitative analysis was performed using CAQDAS tool QDA Miner Lite to identify the barriers towards effective utilisation of AT. Further, ISM technique and MICAMAC analysis were used to corroborate the most significant barriers. RESULTS: The results revealed the most significant barriers to implementation of AT and also that timely managing these major barriers can lower the effect on other barriers. CONCLUSION: Eliminating the significant barriers would enhance the use of AT by the special education teachers, parents, and children with SLDs. Effective use of AT can prove to be benediction in the times of pandemic.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: There is still no clear evidence available on the role of robot-assisted gait training (RAGT) in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and on the relationship between this intervention and cognitive impairment. OBJECTIVE: This study investigates the impact of the cognitive level at admission on functional recovery in a cohort of patients with severe TBI who received RAGT training within a multidisciplinary rehabilitation setting. METHODS: We included patients with gait disturbance due to a severe TBI. Patients were grouped into three classes according to their level of cognitive functioning (LCF) at admission (LCF…2-3; LCF 4-5-6; LCF 7-8). We collected demographics (sex, age), clinical data, and a set of outcome measures at admission and discharge. RESULTS: We registered 80 patients, 19 females and 61 males, 35.3 ± 14.85 years. Patients with a low cognitive level at admission were mostly subacute (p = 0.001). Cognitive impairment despite longer length stay in the hospital (LOS) (p = 0.001) did not preclude recovery after RAGT in terms of cognition (R 2 = 0.68; p < 0.0001), functional independence (R 2 = 0.30; p < 0.0001) and overall disability (R 2 = 0.32; p < 0.0001). CONCLUSION: Irrespective of their level of cognition, patients with severe TBI might benefit from RAGT during a multidisciplinary program.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Spending time in natural environments is beneficial for mental health and cognitive function. Unfortunately, many elderly citizens, who would potentially gain from these beneficial effects, have limited or no access to natural environments. Virtual reality may provide the experience of being present in a natural environment without the need of transportation. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the present study was to acquire an understanding of how residents and staff at a residential care facility may use and experience different virtual natural environments, and thus aid the design of virtual natural environments. METHODS: We…used qualitative method, collecting data through interviews and observations. The data was analyzed using qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: Exposure to virtual natural environments provoked various emotional reactions, and promoted skill development and social interaction among participants. The staff perceived virtual natural environments as potentially useful for, for example, improving residents’ anxiety. We identified several user interface improvements. CONCLUSIONS: The present study discusses how various aspects of virtual natural environments work in relation to the experience of a user and how this might affect wellbeing in older adults. These aspects may be valuable to consider in the design of virtual natural environments for use at residential care facilities.
Keywords: Elderly care, nature, virtual reality, well-being, qualitative method
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Users with Severe Speech and Motor Impairment (SSMI) often use a communication chart through their eye gaze or limited hand movement and care takers interpret their communication intent. There is already significant research conducted to automate this communication through electronic means. Developing electronic user interface and interaction techniques for users with SSMI poses significant challenges as research on their ocular parameters found that such users suffer from Nystagmus and Strabismus limiting number of elements in a computer screen. This paper presents an optimized eye gaze controlled virtual keyboard for English language with an adaptive dwell time feature for…users with SSMI. OBJECTIVE: Present an optimized eye gaze controlled English virtual keyboard that follows both static and dynamic adaptation process. The virtual keyboard can automatically adapt to reduce eye gaze movement distance and dwell time for selection and help users with SSMI type better without any intervention of an assistant. METHODS: Before designing the virtual keyboard, we undertook a pilot study to optimize screen region which would be most comfortable for SSMI users to operate. We then proposed an optimized two-level English virtual keyboard layout through Genetic algorithm using static adaptation process; followed by dynamic adaptation process which tracks users’ interaction and reduces dwell time based on a Markov model-based algorithm. Further, we integrated the virtual keyboard for a web-based interactive dashboard that visualizes real-time Covid data. RESULTS: Using our proposed virtual keyboard layout for English language, the average task completion time for users with SSMI was 39.44 seconds in adaptive condition and 29.52 seconds in non-adaptive condition. Overall typing speed was 16.9 lpm (letters per minute) for able-bodied users and 6.6 lpm for users with SSMI without using any word completion or prediction features. A case study with an elderly participant with SSMI found a typing speed of 2.70 wpm (words per minute) and 14.88 lpm (letters per minute) after 6 months of practice. CONCLUSIONS: With the proposed layout for English virtual keyboard, the adaptive system increased typing speed statistically significantly for able bodied users than a non-adaptive version while for 6 users with SSMI, task completion time reduced by 8.8% in adaptive version than nonadaptive one. Additionally, the proposed layout was successfully integrated to a web-based interactive visualization dashboard thereby making it accessible for users with SSMI.