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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: In this article, we describe the benefits for people with disabilities of using the Internet and information technologies. We include brief case studies to illustrate how people with different functional limitations use electronic resources in their everyday lives. The examples illustrate the ways that the Internet and information technologies can empower people with disabilities by (1) enhancing access to information about the community, (2) providing venues for electronic publishing, (3) offering opportunities for networking and advocacy, (4) increasing access to education, and (5) enhancing employment opportunities. People with disabilities encounter a number of barriers when attempting to use the Internet…and information technologies. Although we outline some of the barriers, the focus of this article is on the benefits of the Internet and information technologies. We strongly advocate that rehabilitation professionals acquire expertise necessary to assist people with disabilities in gaining access to and the effective use of information networks, thus improving their quality of life, opportunities for employment, education and recreation.
Keywords: Assistive technology, Internet, Information technology, Disability, Consumer empowerment
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to provide an overview and overall structure for discussion of accessibility issues for people with disabilities. It also defines the relationship between creating a more accessible web for people with disabilities and creating a web that is accessible to people who are mobile, as well as those who are engaged in other activities while accessing information from the web. The relationship of accessible web sites to web indexing engines and intelligent agents are also discussed.
Keywords: Internet accessibility, Cross-modal access, Universal design
Abstract: The Web Access Project, a part of the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM; http://www.wgbh.org/ncam), was initiated in early 1996. Its mission is to develop and test technology to make World Wide Web sites accessible to deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind or visually impaired users. The Project has developed methods for adding captions and audio descriptions to movie clips, making Web-based multimedia more accessible to users with sensory impairments. NCAM has also worked with Microsoft and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on tools which allow authors to use a standard markup language and timecode to synchronize multiple sound and text…tracks to video. This client-side rendering technique can provide users with easy and flexible access to closed captions and audio descriptions, in addition to foreign language soundtracks and subtitles. This paper examines the work done by the Web Access Project in the field of multimedia, and also explores accessibility issues in future multimedia technology, such as Shockwave, WebTV and Java.
Keywords: Accessible multimedia, Captioning, Disabilities, Accessible web design, Video service
Abstract: Students with disabilities may gain increased access to higher education through the use of the Internet. Many individualized accommodations may no longer be necessary and students may increasingly engage in their work with more independence. This increased access may require assistive technology for computer access and accessible design in the information systems with which students interact.
Keywords: Assistive technology, Higher education, Disability, Internet, Information technology
Abstract: The Internet is being used increasingly as an instructional tool at all educational levels and in most academic disciplines. Students can access exciting instructional materials from laboratories, monitor ongoing scientific experiments and events, and exchange data and ideas with other students from around the world. Students with disabilities can benefit from the use of the Internet in schools when adaptive computer technology is available and the materials being accessed and exchanged are accessible. Applications of the Internet for the education of students with disabilities that deserve special attention include: (i) collaborative learning; (ii) independent access to information and educational resources;…(iii) mentoring and peer support; (iv) use of specially dedicated Web sites; (v) on-line distance education; and (vi) interaction in virtual educational environments and activities.
Keywords: Disability, Education, Accessibility, Internet, World Wide Web
Abstract: Distance learning is one of the hottest issues in higher education. Because it depends heavily on digitized information, and because digitized information is displayed independently, distance learning courses are potentially an ideal mechanism for mainstream students with disabilities in education. However, in the rush to move ahead, systems are frequently designed without considering the special interface problems to information technology for students with disabilities. Distance learning can either be an open door to learning and mainstreaming, or it can create new need needless barriers to inclusion.
Abstract: The Internet is available 24 hours per day and offers a wealth of information via web sites, mailing lists and other resources for individuals with disabilities. These individuals can use the Internet as a tool to gain information related to their disabilities, assistive technology, employment, leisure activities, public policy and more. This article will describe some of the sites on these topics that may be of particular interest to individuals with disabilities, their family members and assistive technology service providers. This article provides the reader with a summary of the resources available regarding disability-related information on the Internet.
Abstract: The Consumer Ideal Product (CIP) program at the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology Evaluation and Transfer (RERC-TET) is exploring how the end-users of assistive technology devices define ‘the ideal device’. One outcome of this effort is a set of priorities assigned to product features and functions – including service, warranties and customer support – all directly from the end-user's perspective. As another outcome, the RERC-TET then transforms these results into benchmarks useful for comparing existing products, in terms accessible to product designers, manufacturers and vendors. A third outcome is a checklist of features and functions useful for choosing among…products. This paper presents the procedures and results from the RERC-TETs work on ideal tie-downs for wheelchairs. In the CIP study, four end-user focus groups generated 180 statements relating to an ‘ideal’ tie-down system, under the 11 device evaluation criteria. Then, 100 experienced users rated these 180 statements organized in a survey, judging how well the statements characterized an ‘ideal’ tie-down system. End-users also rated the importance of the 11 device evaluation criteria. Consumers placed the highest importance on the three evaluation criteria of physical security/safety, product reliability and effectiveness. The RERC-TET then developed product benchmarks, which were used to compare six commercially available wheelchair tie-down systems. Outcomes from this work suggest improvements for each product's design, service and support. Overall, the six tie-down products all meet roughly 56–77% of the identified product requirements. Many of the suggested improvements offer a low-cost opportunity for companies to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. The findings should help manufacturers and vendors improve their products and services, and help professionals and end-users make informed choices.