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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: Shifts from professional-driven, to client-focused, to consumer-responsive, to consumer-driven service delivery have created a new and critical need for people with disabilities with the confidence and ability to make their own assistive technology decisions. On a systemic level, people with disabilities have unprecedented opportunities to influence public policy. Supports provided through several programs as part of the Pennsylvania Title I project under the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act Amendments of 1994 are helping to create new, informed and effective leaders who can advocate for improved access to assistive devices and services for themselves and others.
Abstract: This article discusses a variety of approaches the Illinois Assistive Technology Project has used in conducting outreach activities to rural areas. These have included the use of a Mobile Unit, Request for Proposals for organizations to meet local needs, Regional Centers, Regional Outreach Coordinators to actively solicit the involvement of individuals who would otherwise be outside the reach of mainstream approaches through the use of Regional Advisory Committees. Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages, so more than one approach is necessary in order to effectively reach rural populations.
Keywords: Rural, Outreach, Mobile unit, Regional Centers, Assistive technology
Abstract: This article highlights the need for and impact of loan financing programs for the acquisition of assistive technology. The importance of consumer involvement in all aspects of program development and operation will be emphasized. An in-depth review of the potential that loan financing holds for persons with disabilities is provided through a discussion of the need for alternative financing strategies; an analysis of the results of the National Research of Loan Financing Strategies; and a sample of current loan financing programs for assistive technology. The authors would like to clarify that the loan programs identified were surveyed over a year…ago, therefore the figures provided may be somewhat dated. Since the completion of this article, several other states have initiated assistive technology loan programs which are not reported within. Information on these programs can be obtained by contacting the authors directly. We would also like to acknowledge the loan program staff from Nevada, Maine, South Carolina, and Connecticut for their contributions.
Keywords: Disabilities, Adaptive devices, Assistive technology, Low-interest loans, Community integration
Abstract: Often, the elderly and children with disabilities do not have adequate access to assistive technology information, devices, or services. Providing assistive technology to Iowa's elderly and children who require it has been an ongoing priority of the Iowa Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT). IPAT has created system change by including consumers and family members, local service providers and policy makers. The community-based projects described in this article address the goals of the Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (Tech Act). These include increased awareness and acceptance of assistive technology, increased access to assistive technology services, and…involvement of consumers in decision making and provision of Assistive Technology services.
Abstract: When Congress passed the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act in 1988, it did so with the knowledge that individuals with disabilities can use assistive technology (AT) to enhance many aspects of their lives. In fact, from the time of its initial passage to its reauthorization in 1994, the Tech Act, as the legislation has come to be known, had increased the public's awareness about AT, and led to the development of many state-wide consumer-responsive systems of assistive technology service delivery. It also had increased people's hands-on experiences with AT devices and services. Yet, there was the realization that,…despite the efforts of the state Tech Act projects, systemic barriers existed that impeded the timely access and use of AT devices and services for countless US citizens with disabilities. As a result, Congress included in the revised Tech Act a provision for all state Tech Act projects to undertake a cooperative agreement with their Protection and Advocacy (P and A) system. Essentially, the purpose of this cooperative agreement was to allow for ‘systems change’ to occur as a result of potential or actual litigation brought forth on behalf of people with disabilities by the state P and As. This article discusses one such cooperative agreement that was reached by the Texas Tech Act project, the Texas Assistive Technology Partnership, and Texas' P and A system, Advocacy, Incorporated. General discussion focuses on the Tech Act and its provisions, and specific information is provided about the cooperative agreement formulated in Texas and its early results.
Keywords: Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act, Assistive technology, Systemic change, Disability rights, Advocacy
Abstract: While no one measurement tool is sensitive or effective in measuring the outcome of assistive technology applications, there is much a single service provider can do to measure the actual results of the interventions they are recommending and delivering. Five measurement dimensions are presented along with a discussion of the varied audiences interested in outcome measurement. This review article does not offer a how-to in outcome measurement, rather presents a rage of considerations a service provider needs to consider in planning an outcome measurement program.
Keywords: Assistive technology, Outcome measurement, Person with a disability, Service provider, Measurement dimensions
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to identify the current assessment process used by rehabilitation teams in the area of assistive technology for individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI). Through the use of technology, many individuals with SCI have been able to reach higher levels of independent functioning than ever before possible, including independent living and employment. Many individuals with SCI have a great need for adapted equipment and assistive technology devices. This paper will suggest recommended areas of assessment for assistive technology, based on both a review of the literature and the results of current research. It is the…intent of the authors that the suggestions will be applicable generally and are not limited to individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Abstract: Functional Electrical Stimulation [FES]-augmented in-home standing is a life-changing and time consuming assistive technology with the significant potential for increasing the independence of persons with Spinal Cord Injury [SCI]. Although positive psychological benefits are often cited as expected outcomes, little is known of the psychologically related effects of participation in FES research applications. To investigate these variables, four older adolescents/young adults with SCI who used FES to stand in their home environments were recruited. This study explores the age specific constructs of self-image, the disability specific constructs of personal independence and handicap, and the person-specific construct of device match for…these older adolescents. Results are described in light of disabled adolescents' needs, and future research areas are identified.
Keywords: Functional electrical stimulation [FES], Spinal cord injury [SCI], Older adolescence, Personal independence, Handicap, Self-image, Quality of life [QOL], Assistive technology match
Abstract: Multimedia technology has presented teachers with an interesting dilemma: the richness of information in multimedia courseware cannot be adequately accessed and processed by an students. The learning disabled student, in particular, lacks some of the metacognitive skills that support their navigation through informational multimedia. In order to construct a supportive environment for the learning disabled student, however, the teacher needs to know what predisposition the student has towards the specific technology. This article describes the manner in which the Educational Technology Predisposition Assessment (ETPA) was modified for a middle school audience and how that modification could be extended for an…audience of learning disabled students.
Keywords: Technology, Assessment, Multimedia, Learning disabilities, Media attributes, ETPA
Abstract: The delivery of instruction through the use of computers, television, and other technologies is growing as the cost of these technologies decreases and the cost of teachers increases. A research project was designed to determine characteristics of students who successfully completed coursework in American Sign Language via distance learning compared to those who were not students who successfully completed coursework in American Sign Language via distance learning compared to those who where not successful. The Tennessee Self Concept Scale, Learning Styles Inventory, Survey of Technology Use and Educational Technology Predisposition Assessment were completed by 120 students prior to beginning instruction…in American Sign Language and learning how to operate the course technologies. After completion of ASL I and, for continuing students, ASL II, successful students compared to those determined to be less successful. Items from the Survey of Technology Use and Educational Technology Predisposition Assessment were the best predictors of ASL I and ASL II course grades and proficiency/satisfaction with use of the course technologies.
Keywords: Distance learning, Technology utilization, Outcomes assessment, Technology and user interface, American sign language
Abstract: If outcomes for adults include valued membership in their community and work environments, then schools must assume responsibility for providing opportunities for meaningful participation and relationship-building among all students. A full range of supports and services, including the use of assistive technology, are required if students with severe disabilities are to realize these outcomes. Three case studies, illustrating the use of assistive technology in supporting students with severe disabilities in general education classrooms, are described and analyzed in this article.
Keywords: Assistive technology, Severe disabilities, Inclusive education, Trans-disciplinary teams
Abstract: When a disability interferes with the performance of an essential job function, a low-tech or high-tech accommodation may allow the worker to perform that function. Information on 141 cases that concerned fatigue was analyzed based on the Job Accommodation Network database. Industry, occupational category, career progression, causative factor, job function, and accommodation suggestion were the variables in these cases. In the primary analysis, 24 job functions (e.g. work at full production level, work at standing height) were related to 10 accommodation suggestions (e.g. flexible work schedule, purchase equipment). Results are discussed in terms of proactive versus reactive accommodations for fatigue…in the workplace.
Abstract: A sample of Job Accommodation Network cases was examined to describe accommodations made in the workplace. An analysis of successful accommodation cases from an informal survey was conducted to determine the accommodation outcomes. The surveys revealed that businesses are making reasonable accommodations that they perceive as effective, economically beneficial, and that improve worker productivity and satisfaction. Accommodations are made across types of industry, types of jobs, and job functions. Most accommodations in this sample involved purchase of a product. Over half of the accommodations were for those in professional/para-professional and clerical job classes. A variety of disabling conditions were included…in the sample, but individuals with upper extremity limitations as a result of amputation, arthritis, and repetitive strain injuries represented the highest proportion of the sample. The cost figures for these accommodations as reported by the employers were consistent with accommodation cost information found in the literature.
Keywords: Americans with Disabilities Act, Job Accommodation, Reasonable Accommodation, Employment
Abstract: Falls, fall injuries, fear of falling, and difficulty rising from a fall are significant related problems for frail elders. This study used a multivariants analysis to study differences between frail elders reporting one or more falls in the past 5 years, and those reporting no falls. Of 392 subjects, 186 (47%) reported a fall. Subjects reporting falls were more physically disabled, used more devices designed for physical disabilities, had more home environmental problems and used less assistive devices for vision impairment.
Abstract: The Vocational Training Facility (VTF) developed a three-workstation classroom as part of a project to test a new approach to the vocational training of students with physical disabilities. The three VTF workstations were equipped with an array of commercial and prototype assistive devices and software to facilitate the access to curriculum and daily-living materials. This article focuses on the prescription and set-up procedures, the use of assistive technology (AT) and its integration within a vocational training workstation, as well as a model for designing reasonable accommodation (RA) solutions that address the needs and capabilities of the individual student, the requirements…of the job and the demands of the work environment.
Abstract: Driven by a desire to improve their sports performance, a few wheelchair users began to challenge the rules for wheelchair sports. In so doing the flame of a revolution was lit. By producing their own wheelchairs, standard wheelchair technology was challenged. During the late 1970s, several companies arose out of the demand for custom sports chairs for daily use. The demand for improved performance and lighter weight was great enough to support an industry because the large wheelchair manufacturers at the time did not recognize this change in the market place, the door was left open for new players. Although…there has been recent consolidation of many of the original ultralight wheelchair manufacturers, growth continues. This trend should produce some exciting technologies to reduce costs and improve quality.