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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: It is commonly suggested that the unappealing appearance of many assistive devices discourages their adoption and use by elderly people. This study investigated users' perceptions of walking aids through 22 semi-structured interviews and three focus groups. It was found that device acceptance incorporates issues related to device appearance and stigma and enhancement of individual autonomy. Each individual held unique preferences for both aspects of image and autonomy. Additionally, device acceptance is dependent upon the context. Concern with the negative image of the device was limited to the first mobility device and was temporary.
Abstract: A comprehensive usability study was conducted to assess the suitability for older adults of the ‘Remote Gateway’ (RG), a prototype portable wireless automated integrated environmental control device. Using a full-scale simulated living room and bedroom, 153 older adults, half of whom had mobility restrictions, participated in a protocol where they were introduced to, observed and experimented with the RG. A subset of the sample (n=79) also performed eight daily living tasks (e.g. answering the telephone, turning lights and TV on/off, and answering a door) both manually (without the RG) and electronically with the RG. Data collected included behavior observations of…task times, task-associated problematic behaviors, as well as questionnaire data on several dimensions related to the RG, e.g. aesthetics, cost, advantages and disadvantages, and personal interest in adopting the RG. Results showed, overall, the RG performed well. The seniors executed the daily living tasks with relatively few associated problems, which was reflected in positive self-reports of the overall usability of the device. The mobility restricted seniors felt the RG was more difficult to use and more difficult to hold than the less disabled seniors. The older adults stated a clear preference for the RG to be connected to household items that enhance personal safety, e.g. surveillance cameras. Although the participants clearly perceived the RG to be of benefit to seniors with mobility disabilities, relatively fewer perceived the RG in terms of convenience or as a device that could potentially prevent in-home accidents. Specific design recommendations for the RG are also offered.
Keywords: Environmental control devices, Technology and independence, Older adults, Mobility restrictions
Abstract: Three primary factors account for why an unprecedented number of American inventors are focusing their talents on developing assistive technology: (1) the technology market is providing them with an ever-growing collection of new and affordable development tools; (2) there is new legislation concerning (and government money to support) both the social and technological rights of disabled people; and (3) the US population is aging, and therefore increasing the demand for assistive devices. The ultimate goal of these research and development (R and D) efforts is technology transfer, i.e. moving the devices out of the research laboratory and into the hands…of consumers. Yet devices invented in Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs), universities, or even small private research laboratories, rarely make it to the commercial market. This paper suggests that a basic incompatibility exists between the talents of those who invent and the skills needed to achieve technology transfer, and suggests ways of dealing with this dilemma.