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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: BACKGROUND: Do-it-yourself technologies such as 3D printing offer interesting opportunities for creating custom-made assistive devices for people with disabilities. Although these opportunities are increasingly acknowledged, it remains unclear how 3D printing technology should be implemented in assistive devices delivery processes. OBJECTIVE: In three separate action research projects carried out in Belgium, Italy and The Netherlands, workflows were designed and evaluated that incorporate 3D printing as a standard option for providing clients with suitable assistive devices. METHODS: In this paper we describe and compare the three workflows that were conceived simultaneously, yet independently from…each other. RESULTS: Based on the evaluations of these workflows, and the experiences of the researchers who developed the workflows, we provide recommendations for implementing 3D printing as a common approach in assistive device delivery processes in practice. Most importantly, designing and manufacturing should be done by means of a client-centered co-creation process by interdisciplinary teams of clinicians, clients, and 3D printing experts. We provide several recommendations for facilitating and supporting collaborations within such teams. CONCLUSIONS: The three workflows presented in this paper are strikingly similar and therefore provide a convincing starting point for interdisciplinary design teams who wish to embark on 3D printing custom-made assistive devices.
Keywords: Assistive technology, assistive devices, occupational therapy, 3D printing, custom-made
Abstract: BACKGROUND: In recent years, with ever-improving technology, considerable progress has been made in the approaches available to develop mobility assistive technology systems. OBJECTIVE: This paper aims to anticipate the future of assistive technologies of navigation and mobility for people with severe visual disabilities in the next twenty years (2021–2041). METHODS: We conducted a technology foresight exercise by identifying promising technologies and invited over 20,000 researchers worldwide to share their views on the future of assistive technologies for people with visual impairment. The technologies and respondents were identified from specialized journals indexed on Web…of Science. RESULTS: Most respondents believe computer vision will be the most important assistive technology group for mobility and navigation for visually impaired people, especially with haptic feedback. They also believe that voice and vibrotactile are the most relevant feedback and that glasses and smartphones will be the most important tools for visual impairment support. CONCLUSIONS: While costs and lack of user training may hamper the development and use of these new technologies, they represent the future of assistive technology for people with visual impairments.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The growing need and popularity of telepractice over conventional direct therapy by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) demand validation of oral language and literacy assessments via telepractice mode. Considering the limited research on the validation of standardised oral language and literacy tele-assessment in autistic children, it is vital to explore the feasibility of standardised oral language assessments in specific cultural and linguistic contexts. OBJECTIVE: To examine the reliability of standardised oral language and emergent literacy assessments delivered via telepractice in autistic children. METHODS: Emergent literacy and oral language skills of ten autistic children aged…between 4 to 8 years were assessed using the Test of Emergent Literacy Assessment (TELA), and Assessment of Language Development (ALD) through in-person and tele-assessment with a gap of 15 days. RESULTS: The findings of the present study establish the reliability of standardised oral language and literacy tele-assessment in autistic children by demonstrating a high level of agreement between in-person and tele-assessment modes. CONCLUSIONS: Telepractice, may therefore, be a feasible and reliable mode of oral language and literacy assessment in autistic children, with adequate knowledge of the required special accommodation(s), training and strong collaboration with the facilitator(s).
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Persons with severe intellectual disability (ID) may be non-verbal and unable to communicate pain or distress. Consequently, painful conditions may go undetected, and non-verbal persons with ID may not receive adequate care and treatment. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to explore how professional caregivers and parents identify pain and distress in non-verbal persons with ID, and their attitudes towards using wearable sensors to identify pain and distress in daily life situations. METHODS: Exploratory, mixed method study. Caregivers (83) answered an online questionnaire, and professional caregivers (18) and parents (7) were interviewed.…RESULTS: Professional caregivers and parents recognise pain and distress from observations and behavioural signs that are often equivocal. They experience that this is inadequate to reliably detect pain and distress in non-verbal persons with ID. Professional caregivers and parents’ express frustration and fear that painful conditions may remain untreated. They are positive towards using wearable sensors on condition that sensors do not infringe on user autonomy and privacy. CONCLUSIONS: There is a need for sensors and methods that can objectively identify pain and distress and ensure adequate treatment, that may improve quality of life of non-verbal persons with ID.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Access to low-cost tactile displays that allow sliding contact between text and reading fingers remains a challenge for blind and visually impaired (BVI) users. This impedes the widespread learning of braille and tactile reading. Previous work demonstrated a high accuracy in the tactile reading of braille and raised print presented at varying refresh rates. OBJECTIVE: This work compares the most suitable spacing between embossed characters on a sliding contact tactile display for the accurate reading of words. METHODS: Two discs, differing in inter-character spacing (ICS), embossed with braille on one side and…raised print on the reverse side are used here. MNREAD sentences are read for a period of 5 minutes by 17 participants, who are visually impaired, using both discs. RESULTS: The results show that an ICS of 8 mm is sufficient for reading braille with a low percentage error rate of 6.4. However, an ICS of 8 mm does not allow similar rates while reading raised print. CONCLUSION: The results presented here will be relevant towards the research that works towards the design of economical sliding contact tactile displays for BVI users.