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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: Assistive robotic technology can be used to augment manipulation tasks for individuals who have little to no use of upper extremities. By understanding user demographics and the market potential for such a device, an assistive robot can be designed and marketed to optimally meet the needs of the targeted audience. Consequently, the demographics and characteristics of a dozen disabling conditions often associated with minimal use of upper limbs are described. The conditions included are: cerebral palsy, arthrogryposis, spinal muscular atrophy, muscular dystrophies, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, poliomyelitis, spinal cord injury, head injury, and locked-in…syndrome. An estimate of the number of people with these conditions who also have minimal use of upper limbs was calculated to be at least 150 000. The market potential is presumably lower than this number given the medical needs and financial constraints of these populations. While the market potential is small, the independence and quality of life made available by way of robotic technology is potentially enormous.
Abstract: A cooperative learning environment with disabled and non-disabled student research teams used a robotic system to investigate phenomena in a manipulation-rich science education environment. The setting was an .inclusive third/fourth grade classroom in a neighborhood school within a large midwestern city. An innovative science education curriculum was developed which emphasized an inquiry-based approach. The research design involved both pre-testing and post-testing of student perfor ance in both pencil-and-paper tests and an actual experimental setting. Results were mixed, with students not performing as well on paper-and-pencil tasks in contrast to excellent performance on a transfer task. The results of social validity…sampling procedures indicated that both students and teachers saw benefits through the use of the robot as a science tool. The implications of the research are discussed in terms of increasing interactions between disabled and non-disabled students and the functionality of the robotic device as an assistive tool. The needs for a future generation of highly capable and flexible robotic tools is discussed and some suggestions are made for the future.
Keywords: Assistive, Robotics, Science Education, Inclusion and Collaboration
Abstract: This paper presents the results of a collaborative research project which developed and applied an assessment methodology for determining whether a robotic assistive work device would significantly decrease the number of times an able-bodied co-worker or attendant was required to provide assistance. The assessment methodology developed in this project may be useful for future evaluations of this technology. The results showed that a significant reduction in attendant time per unit of work does occur when using the device. A decrease in productivity, however, also occurred when the device was used. Further investigation of this decrease in productivity and quantitative data…on the cost of disrupting a co-worker is required before any firm conclusion can be made regarding the effectiveness of the device.
Abstract: A person with a physical disability may posess the mental aptitude to competently and efficiently perform the decision-making aspects of a range of vocational tasks, but may not be employable because of an inability to manipulate the tools and/or product associated with those tasks. A project has been carried out to address this limitation by investigating the use of an interactive automated system to expand job opportunities for people with manipulation disabilities in manufacturing jobs. An outcome of this project is an interactive robotic system that was designed to enable a physically disabled person to perform the job of visual…inspector of hybrid microcircuits. This paper describes details of this interactive robotic system, and the procedures followed in its installation and evaluation. Implementation requirements for the general application of interactive robotic systems are discussed.
Abstract: In interactive computer controlled systems such as robots history lists store records of user and system events. The history of commands, system states and actions taken by an intelligent robot is important to safety, performance, service and quality assurance. These records are commonly referred to as ‘history lists’. They are an objective account of system operation that can serve the needs of users, analysts, designers, management and regulatory agents. A well-known example of a history list system is the aircraft flight recorder. They are also used in chemical process control and software usability testing. These areas are distinguished by the…high cost of system malfunction and the high value placed on continuous availability. For semi-automated health care systems such as human-service robots in rehabilitation, surgery and patient care, a well-designed history list recorder and analyzer can help ensure safe and effective system operation. However, history list usage is largely unexplored in robotic systems. This paper presents a history list design methodology for interactive robots. The design framework consists of five guidelines, which are defined and discussed. The guidelines are derived from 2 years of experimental history list usage, during which time 3000 h of history list data and 30 h of videotaped robot operation were recorded. The history lists were recorded by a data acquisition system originally designed into the interface of DeVAR, a VA/Stanford-developed, voice-controlled, desktop robot for individuals with physical disabilities. Analysis of the data, using the five guidelines as a framework for discussion, shows how history lists can be a useful tool for designers and operators. Results focus on methods for debugging robot interfaces and developing chronicles of actual use.
Keywords: Event recording, Data logging, User interface design, Assistive technology and robot safety
Abstract: For people with muscular dystrophy or spinal muscular atrophy – conditions characterized by degenerating muscle strength – the option of using a mechanical aid exists. This would allow free arm movement. This paper presents a consumer-based design approach to construction of such an assistive manipulation device and describes the consumer-driven stages in the orthosis design project within the Applied Science and Engineering Laboratories (ASEL). Results are presented from two consumer meetings held during the initial stages of the design. A design principle has been establish.:d and an initial set of prototypes evaluated. These will be used to modify subsequent design…iterations.
Keywords: Rehabilitation, Orthosis, Interface, Consumer, Control
Abstract: Stroke survivors commonly undergo intensive evaluation of and treatment for impaired movement control for several months after stroke onset. We believe a significant potential exists for robotic devices (or ‘rehabilitators’) that can accurately measure post-stroke movement impairment, and augment or substitute for some manual therapeutic components of traditional physical and occupational therapy techniques. The purpose of this paper is to justify this claim, and to provide a starting framework for engineering and health care professionals interested in the development of rehabilitators. The fundamentals of stroke movement impairment and neurotherapeutic techniques are reviewed with respect to requirements for rehabilitators, and preliminary…engineering designs for rehabilitators are discussed.
Abstract: Manus is a wheelchair mounted robotic arm that was designed for people who have significant impairment in function of all limbs. The process of development, user testing, and product modifications is described, with special emphasis on evaluations by consumers, After an evolution of 20 years, Manus is a commercially available product that is now being prescribed for users in The Netherlands and France. Preliminary prescription criteria are presented and a look at the current status of the assistive technology device concludes the paper.
Abstract: Robots can serve as interactive aids for performing personal and vocational activities and improve the quality of life for persons with severe mobility impairments. A major challenge has been making this technology functional, practical, and affordable. A technology transfer process is presently underway to validate the safety, reliability and effectiveness of the Helping Hand Electro-mechanical Arm. This paper discusses the preliminary clinical evaluation and technology transfer procedure for the Helping Hand system.