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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: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disorder with increasing prevalence rates. People affected by ASD do often need support in various activities of daily living mainly provided by formal or informal caregivers. Assistive technology can help to increase autonomy and safety of people on the autism spectrum and thus decrease the burden of care. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the state of the art of assistive technology (AT) that supports autonomy, self-reliance, comfort and wellbeing of people with ASD or aiming to prevent dangerous situations or shutdowns, caused by stressful (environmental) situations.…Another aim is to analyze the fields of application and type of the proposed technologies and to explore the evaluations conducted. METHODS: A scoping review was carried out where the databases MEDLINE, IEEE and ACM Digital Library were searched. The identified articles were grouped according to the objective of the technology – the supported area of life that is assisted by the proposed systems. Furthermore, the conducted evaluations of the ATs in the papers were analyzed. RESULTS: A total of 40 articles were included in this review with a balanced distribution in the different fields of application (Communication & Social Life; Daily Living Assistants; Safety & Security). Eighteen studies conducted an evaluation of the proposed technology with people with ASD, mainly testing the functionality of the systems. CONCLUSION: The proposed technologies support people in the autism spectrum according to the main outcomes and symptoms of ASD. Further research is needed to determine the usefulness and acceptance of the ATs.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems are used by people with motor disabilities, such as those with cerebral palsy (CP). The assessment of physical functional skills is crucial for appropriately choosing the computer access tool. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to do a systematic literature review addressing the importance of the analysis of physical functional performance for the construction of specific tools to support communication. METHODS: The review followed PRISMA guidelines. We searched articles from 2009 to 2021 using three databases (PubMed, Lilacs in Portuguese, and SciELO). Three reviewers extracted the data. Registration…was made to PROSPERO. The risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration tool. RESULTS: We found 132 articles in the databases. First, we excluded 31 articles because they did not provide evidence for the use of alternative communication in people with CP and did not use high technology resources. We also excluded 57 duplicated articles. At the end of this first step, 44 articles were left, 38 of them were excluded because they are not clinical trials. We selected 6 articles for the final analysis. CONCLUSIONS: The systematic review had a positive impact on the precise dissemination of knowledge ensuring comparisons of interventions and articles such as assistive technology programs.
Keywords: Communication aids for disabled, physical functional performance, assistive technology and devices, cerebral palsy, review
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Rapid technological development has been opening new possibilities for children with disabilities. In particular, robots can enable and create new opportunities in therapy, rehabilitation, education, or leisure. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this article is to share experiences, challenges and learned lessons by the authors, all of them with experience conducting research in the field of robotics for children with disabilities, and to propose future directions for research and development. METHODS: The article is the result of several consensus meetings to establish future research priorities in this field. RESULTS: Robots…have a huge potential to support children with disabilities: they can play the role of a play buddy, of a mediator when interacting with other children or adults, they can promote social interaction, and transfer children from the role of a spectator of the surrounding world to the role of an active participant. To fulfill their potential, robots have to be “smart”, stable and reliable, easy to use and program, and give the just-right amount of support adapted to the needs of the child. Interdisciplinary collaboration combined with user centered design is necessary to make robotic applications successful. Furthermore, real-life contexts to test and implement robotic interventions are essential to refine them according to real needs. CONCLUSIONS: This article outlines a research agenda for the future of robotics in childcare and supports the establishment of R4C – Robots for Children, a network of experts aimed at sharing ideas, promoting innovative research, and developing good practices on the use of robots for children with disabilities.
Keywords: Children with disabilities, social robots, robotic assistive technologies, child development, child wellbeing
Abstract: BACKGROUND: People with physical disabilities are far less active than recommended, but many are motivated for cycling on a tailor-made tricycle. OBJECTIVE: Does the acquisition of an adapted tricycle lead to better cycling outcomes, and are there differences associated with the application procedure? METHODS: An observational study was conducted with cohorts of participants applying for an adapted leg-driven tricycle via rehabilitation centres or local therapists. Questionnaires were answered electronically before applying and after having had the opportunity to use the new tricycle for at least 3 weeks. Non-parametric analyses were conducted in SPSS.…RESULTS: Fifty participants (54% women) aged 5–79 years (M = 31.5) with diverse disabilities responded. Forty-seven participants (94%) used their tricycle. Results showed a significant positive change in cycling frequency, cycling performance and satisfaction with cycling (p < 0.01). The group of participants who applied at a Healthsports Centre reported higher performance and satisfaction with cycling both after testing them (pre-test) and after having used their new tricycles for some weeks (post-test). CONCLUSIONS: Acquisition of an adapted tricycle led to a higher amount of cycling, better cycling performance and higher satisfaction with cycling. The highest scores were seen among those who apply via a Healthsports Centre.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: College and university websites in the United States are legally required to meet accessibility standards to promote equal opportunity in education for blind and visually disabled students. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are the recognized standard for website accessibility. OBJECTIVE: Determine how satisfied blind and visually disabled college and university students are with college and university websites in California, and whether compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is a good predictor of that satisfaction. METHODS: A random sample of websites from California colleges and universities was evaluated for accessibility compliance. A stratified sample…of six websites was taken from the initial sample. Thirty blind or visually disabled students performed a prescribed series of tasks on each of the six websites, then answered a Likert-format survey regarding their satisfaction with each website. RESULTS: Sixty-three percent of websites did not meet the first priority accessibility criteria. Participant responses showed a majority were satisfied with websites, both compliant and non-compliant, and a strong correlation between satisfaction and accessibility compliance. CONCLUSIONS: Despite legal requirements, a majority or large minority of college and university websites in California do not meet accessibility guidelines, indicating a significant opportunity to improve the accessibility of those websites.