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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: Specialized tools and technologies continue to provide people with disabilities increased independence, productivity, and quality of life. Independent use of the rapidly evolving Internet with audio, braille, and large-character displays has resulted in improved independent access to large amounts of information. Anticipated continued access to the evolving World Wide Web and its associated browser software should provide even more independent access to information for people with visual impairments. Emerging digital storage and retrieval of audio information on cassettes, computer disks, and compact disks are also being used for improved storage and random retrieval of information. Audio displays are also being…used with improved reading machines, laboratory instrumentation, and the presentation of higher level mathematics. Innovative tactile displays are providing access to two- and three-dimensional graphical information. Orientation of blind travelers is being improved through the use of audible signage, interactive computerized maps, and satellite-based global positioning systems. People with low vision are beginning to benefit from high-technology vision enhancement systems worn as ‘heads-up’ closed-circuit systems that may improve information access and independent travel. Exciting research is beginning to suggest that visual restoration may be possible through either technology implants or tissue transplantation. Specialized products and use of universal design of mass market products continue to provide the expectation that individuals with visual impairments will continue to obtain increased independence through the use of technology.
Abstract: Awareness of age-related vision impairment and its functional impact on the older adult is critical for gerontological health and human service providers and technology developers. The goal is to alleviate functional disability due to age-related vision loss through vision rehabilitation services including peer support, and adaptive technology.
Abstract: Travel aids are essential to support the full integration of visually impaired adults into work, leisure and self-care activities. However, the unnatural postures, sustained muscle contractions and repetitive motions involved in using travel aids put travelers at risk for musculoskeletal problems resulting in pain. Little is known about the physical consequences of using travel aids. This paper analyzes physical issues related to travel aid use based on focus groups with 21 users of white canes and dog guides. Cane users described pain in the wrist and back related to manipulation of the cane. They experienced discomfort from ‘stabbing’ by their…canes when walking on cracked sidewalks. Persons assisted by dogs complained of shoulder, wrist, and back pains attributed to being pulled, and shin and heel pain related to increased walking speeds. Cane and dog users complained of tension in the back during travel and pain in the arm and back associated with carrying heavy loads unilaterally. Recommendations are made for reducing travel-related discomfort through exercise, education, and technology. Suggestions are presented for future research based on this study's findings.
Abstract: With the increasing incidence of low vision, especially among older persons, magnifying devices can play an important role in maintaining functional independence and quality of life. However, high rates of dissatisfaction with magnifiers have been reported. This study sought to identify factors which contribute to dissatisfaction and to correct them. Older persons who had reported dissatisfaction with their magnifiers were given the opportunity to see and try out a variety of magnifiers and lighting arrangements and to make a choice with input from informed persons. Demonstrations and training were also provided. Under these conditions, almost all of the cases reported…satisfaction with their new magnifiers. Three case studies are included to illustrate some of the findings. Discussion centers on features of service systems which would increase the probability of the successful provision of magnifiers. These features include: the opportunity to choose among different magnifiers, professional assessment and guidance, training in device use, home trials and proper lighting.
Abstract: This paper provides a follow-up to an earlier report on assistive device needs of older persons with vision impairments. In the earlier report we described a sample of 30 visually impaired elders based on a single interview with each subject. In this current paper we describe a sample of 38 elders with vision impairment at two points in time: an initial interview and assessment and a follow-up 2 years later. We explore changes over 2 years in demographics, health, psycho-social and functional status, problems experienced in the home environment, and use of assistive devices.
Keywords: Aging, Vision impairment, Assistive devices, Functional status, Longitudinal study
Abstract: For individuals who are blind or visually impaired, accessing the information they need throughout their daily lives can be challenging. Today, many low-tech and high-tech solutions exist which can improve access to information for such individuals. In this article, the author shares some of the ways he has used technology to compensate for his own lifelong visual impairment. Practical examples and strategies as well as personal observations of future information access issues are presented.
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 adolescent's needs, and future research areas are identified.
Keywords: Functional electrical stimulation, Spinal cord injury, Older adolescence, Personal independence, Handicap, Self-image, Quality of life, Assistive technology match