Persons with disabilities are invisible and almost silent in the Indian media. This paper examines the emergence of articulate expressions of persons with disabilities (pwd) in the social media over the months March to June 2020 during COVID Lockdown. While technology has been seen as a great leveller for persons with disabilities, the digital divide, however, remains very real for masses of disabled persons, whereby it is largely the educated middle class who have access to internet facilities and presence on social media. This paper draws from observation and analysis of posts on Facebook by different categories of persons with disabilities. There appear to be a number of discourses emerging and imageries running almost parallel. Accessibility and support appear to be very important issues especially in terms of access to domestic workers, regular medical checkups, and procuring daily provisions as well as access to online teaching. On the other hand, little concern is being paid to the huge humanitarian crisis of returnee workers from cities to villages. Interestingly, disabled persons appeared more connected, participating in discussions and Webinars and voicing out their experiences with greater clarity and also analysing the COVID situation through Disability Studies (DS) perspectives.
A speach and language therapist talks about "Look to Speak", an Android app which enables people to use their eyes to select pre-written phrases on mobile devices and have them spoken aloud. A text and video guide are available.
FindMyApps is a web-based selection-tool and errorless learning training program to help people with mild dementia/Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and caregivers find user-friendly apps. In preparation of a definitive trial, the impact and feasibility of the FindMyApps intervention on self-management and engagement in meaningful activities, including social participation, was explored.
Materials and methods
An exploratory pilot randomised controlled trial (trial registration approval number: NL7210) with pre/post measurements was conducted with community-dwelling people with mild dementia/MCI and their caregivers (n = 59) in the Netherlands. Dyads in the experimental group (n = 28) received training to use the tablet and FindMyApps, and the errorless learning method was taught to their caregivers. Control group dyads (n = 31) received a tablet (without FindMyApps), instructions on tablet-use and links to dementia-friendly apps. Validated instruments were used to assess person with dementia’s self-management, meaningful activities and social participation, caregiver’s sense of competence and both their quality of life.
Results and conclusions
No statistical significant group differences on the outcomes were found. Small to moderate effect-sizes in favour of the FindMyApps group were found for self-management and social participation. Caregivers tended to have more positive care experiences. Subgroup analyses showed that people older than 70 benefitted more from FindMyApps regarding self-management and higher educated people benefitted more regarding social participation. FindMyApps is feasible for the target group and may have potential to improve self-management and social participation. For a future definitive effectiveness trial a larger sample size is recommended, as well as taking into account the possible impact of education and age.
This document is the final in a series of in-depth analyses that identify key barriers and promising market interventions. The previous four documents focused on wheelchairs, hearings aids, prostheses, and eyeglasses.
The report provides market landscapes of 3 areas of digital AT: mobile phones; screen readers; and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices.
A common set of recommendations focused on improving access emerged from the individual product landscapes:
- Develop and adopt policies, including legislation, regulations, minimum product standards, and guidelines to support accessibility and uptake of digital AT at the global and country levels.
- Support governments of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to increase awareness of digital AT by including digital assistive products such as smartphones and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices on national assistive product lists.
- Support innovative financing schemes or negotiate pricing agreements to reduce the cost of digital AT to end users.
- Increase availability of training programmes for users, suppliers, and service providers on the availability of digital AT and digital literacy skills.
The purposes of this study were, first, to (re)design the user-interface of the activity tracker known as the MOX with the help of input from elderly individuals living independently and, second, to assess the use of and experiences with the adapted Measure It Super Simple (MISS) activity tracker in daily life.
The double diamond method, which was used to (re)design the user-interface, consists of four phases: discover, define, develop, and deliver. As a departure point, this study used a list of general design requirements that facilitate the development of technology for the elderly. Usage and experiences were assessed through interviews after elderly individuals had used the activity tracker for 2 weeks.
In co-creation with thirty-five elderly individuals (65 to 89-years-old) the design, feedback system, and application were further developed into a user-friendly interface: the Measure It Super Simple (MISS) activity. Twenty-eight elderly individuals (65 to 78-years-old) reported that they found the MISS activity easy to use, needed limited help when setting the tracker up, and required limited assistance when using it during their daily lives.
This study offers a generic structured methodology and a list of design requirements to adapt the interface of an existing activity tracker consistent with the skills and needs of the elderly. The MISS activity seemed to be successfully (re)designed, like the elderly who participated in this pilot study reported that anyone should be able to use it.
The paper undertakes a critical assessment of the use of smartphone apps for transportation by people with intellectual disabilities. Although apps for transportation such as Uber and Careem have been developed to assist people with disabilities and have numerous benefits, people with intellectual disabilities tend to encounter their own set of difficulties in accessing these apps.
Materials and method
This paper presents the research findings drawn from a focus group discussion conducted with nine people with moderate to mild intellectual disabilities in Riyadh, by using a qualitative study focussed on the interpretative paradigm.
From the interview findings, some relevant themes were identified. These were: transportation issues encountered by people with intellectual disabilities, the extent and manner of the use of smartphone apps for transportation, the benefits enjoyed by those individuals in using smartphone apps for transportation and the difficulties encountered by them.
The paper also discusses the implications for practice and presents some useful recommendations, including the need for family support and government assistance.
Access to appropriate assistive technology is a challenge worldwide and especially in low GDP-per-capita countries. Nepal is one example of a country with several coinciding challenges: some claim having a high rate of blindness in the general population, a low-GDP-per capita and some studies claim it has a low literacy rate, especially in rural areas. Without appropriate assistive technology, some disabled youth may not get full access to education.
To gain insight into assistive technology use in rural Nepal, five blind teenagers in a mixed secondary school with disabled and non-disabled students in rural Nepal were interviewed about their daily smartphone use.
The results show that all the participants used screen readers on donated smartphones. None of the participants had received formal training in using smartphone screen readers and therefore lacked knowledge about basic and essential operational aspects of the devices as well as misguided expectations about the technology.
One implication of the findings is that smartphone accessibility features training material needs to be made easily available to schools and all disabled youth worldwide, as smartphones are increasingly becoming available in low-income remote regions with low literacy rates. The built-in accessibility features of smartphones promise disabled youth a non-stigmatizing platform for social participation and access to the information society.
This study challenges the notion that people living with dementia are unable to achieve novel learning without focussed intervention techniques. The purpose of this study is to explore how a woman living with dementia (Alzheimer’s disease) learns to use a tablet computer with support from communicative partners.
The study is based on video recordings and the theoretical framework of learning as changing participation in joint activities. Quantitative and qualitative focus is on changes in the interactional organization over the course of six weeks in the activity of using an augmentative and alternative communication application.
Over time, the participant living with dementia, relies less on the expertise and explicit instructions of her communicative partners when navigating the application, and more on the immediate feedback provided by the tablet computer.
The findings suggest that novel learning still is possible for people living with dementia, even without the implementation of focussed interventions. This study further emphasizes the procedural nature of learning for people living with dementia as the woman’s embodied actions were carried out in an increasingly more direct fashion.
Orientation and Mobility (O&M) professionals teach people with low vision or blindness to use specialist assistive technologies to support confident travel, but many O&M clients now prefer a smartphone. This study aimed to investigate what technology O&M professionals in Australia and Malaysia have, use, like, and want to support their client work, to inform the development of O&M technologies and build capacity in the international O&M profession.
Materials and Methods
A technology survey was completed by professionals (n = 36) attending O&M workshops in Malaysia. A revised survey was completed online by O&M specialists (n = 31) primarily in Australia. Qualitative data about technology use came from conferences, workshops and interviews with O&M professionals. Descriptive statistics were analysed together with free-text data.
Limited awareness of apps used by clients, unaffordability of devices, and inadequate technology training discouraged many O&M professionals from employing existing technologies in client programmes or for broader professional purposes. Professionals needed to learn smartphone accessibility features and travel-related apps, and ways to use technology during O&M client programmes, initial professional training, ongoing professional development and research.
Smartphones are now integral to travel with low vision or blindness and early-adopter O&M clients are the travel tech-experts. O&M professionals need better initial training and then regular upskilling in mainstream O&M technologies to expand clients’ travel choices. COVID-19 has created an imperative for technology laggards to upskill for O&M tele-practice. O&M technology could support comprehensive O&M specialist training and practice in Malaysia, to better serve O&M clients with complex needs.
Digital assistive technologies (ATs), particularly mobile-based ATs, have the potential to be a valuable and cost-effective tool for persons with disabilities. To realise this opportunity there is a need for locally relevant digital ATs that meet the range of needs of persons with disabilities.
This report looks to better understand the landscape of digital innovations for assistive solutions in LMICs and to capture experiences from innovators in Africa and Asia working in this space. Through a literature review which looked at 60 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, examples of frontier technologies and ICTs used as ATs were identified. From these, 10 innovations in Asia and Africa were selected for deep dive analysis. Findings were complemented by 30 interviews with global experts in AT, accessibility, and innovation.
The aim of this paper was to describe how people living with a neurological disability such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke reason regarding using apps to facilitate self-management in everyday life.
Material and methods:
A qualitative research approach with a focus group methodology was used. The sample comprised 16 participants, 11 men and 5 women, with an average age of 64 years (ranging from 51–80 years). Six participants were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, six with Parkinson’s disease and four with stroke. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis, which is a method for identifying, analyzing and reporting patterns.
The results formed two themes. The first theme “using apps to have control of my health” comprises two subthemes; “monitor and take responsibility for a healthy lifestyle” and “compensate to facilitate everyday life”. The second theme “using the app as a tool and means for communication” also comprised two subthemes; “dare to trust the app” and “feeling safe when sharing information with health care professionals”.
The use of apps put increased responsibility on the person and had the possibility to make them more involved in their own care. The use of an app can facilitate a healthy lifestyle and help to monitor disease-specific symptoms. In order to be able to use apps for communication with the health care sector legislation and safety issues need to be considered.
Assistive technology has been used to mitigate reading disabilities for almost three decades, and tablets with text-to-speech and speech-to-text apps have been introduced in recent years to scaffold reading and writing. Few scientifically rigorous studies, however, have investigated the benefits of this technology.
The aim was to explore the effects of assistive technology for students with severe reading disabilities.
This study included 149 participants. The intervention group received 24 sessions of assistive technology training, and the control group received treatment as usual.
Both the intervention and control groups improved as much in 1 year as the normed population did. However, gains did not differ between the groups directly after the intervention or at 1 year of follow-up.
The use of assistive technology seems to have transfer effects on reading ability and to be supportive, especially for students with the most severe difficulties. In addition, it increases motivation for overall schoolwork. Our experience also highlights the obstacles involved in measuring the ability to assimilate and communicate text.
Technologies play vital roles in the learning and participation of autistic people and yet have mostly been conceptualised according to a medical model of disability. In this stakeholder review, the comments of 240 participants from a two-year seminar series focusing on autism and technology were analysed to co-construct an understanding of how research could develop more inclusively. Our socio-cultural analysis shows that stakeholders were very positive about the roles that technologies can play in many areas of life, but that these technologies need to be developed and evaluated according to the needs and preferences of autistic people and their families. We propose an inclusive common social framework for research based on the core themes of social inclusion, perspectives, and participation and agency. Such a framework requires the field to recognise that some current practices are exclusionary and that a commitment to action is needed in order to make positive changes.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore support persons’ views on remote communication for persons with communicative and cognitive disabilities, and on factors enabling self-determination and participation.
Materials and methods: Five focus groups with 21 support persons were conducted. They were recorded and transcribed and data were analyzed qualitatively using focus group analysis methodology.
Results: The participants experience how remote communication can enable users to have increased control in their lives and how remote communication can enable self-determination and participation. Access to remote communication has a dual effect on safety. There are experiences about communicative rights of the users not being met and there is a need for better access to technology, information, and experts. There is also a need for more competence and coordination among staff and support to the users. Challenges emerge in the support persons’ dedication to the users’ right to communicate.
Conclusion: People with communicative and cognitive disabilities need access to remote communication in order to have control over their own lives and to achieve self-determination and participation in society. Support persons carry a large responsibility and can provide valuable insights of users’ communication situation.
Hip fractures are an important public health issue. Ninety-five percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, with those at greatest risk including residents of long-term care facilities. Hip protectors can be effective in preventing hip fractures, but levels of acceptance and adherence may be low. We report on work to develop research into a new hip protector that aims to overcome some of the acceptance and adherence challenges.
We held five patient and public consultation events involving 147 older adults and 10 long-term care sector staff in the Midlands and North West of England. At each event, participants were shown the Fall-Safe Assist hip protector, which includes built-in mobile technology to record information about falls and summon help from caregivers.
Participants were positive about the product’s potential utility and impact upon confidence in moving around. However, many participants held highly personal perceptions of their vulnerability and need, and expressed concerns about the esthetics and practicality of the accompanying underwear. Participants highlighted potential challenges from poor mobile connectivity, and expressed concerns about product cost.
Future research will need to ensure flexible and sensitive approaches to recruitment. Further refinement to the product design may be useful. Individual interviews and questionnaires would help capture participants’ perceptions on personal topics, and measures of changes in confidence. Research sites will need to be compatible with technological functionality. It will be necessary to have a robust protocol in place for withdrawal of the product at the end of any clinical research.
Purpose: Reading and writing applications (with text-to-speech, TTS and speech-to-text, STT functions), used as assistive technology (AT) for students with reading difficulties are increasingly used in education, however, research has not sufficiently enough evaluated its potential. The purpose of this study was to explore how assistive reading and writing applications were perceived to function with regard to students’ possibilities to assimilate (i.e., “read”) and communicate (i.e., “write”) text.
Methods: Following a six-week app intervention, this follow-up survey contained 54 special education teachers’ perceptions of how the use of apps impacted student motivation, learning, and its usability in special education. A total of 59 students with reading difficulties from Grade 4, Grade 8 and from high school, were assessed. Analyses included quantitative and qualitative analyses of teachers’ responses and written material.
Results: The results showed individual differences in how teachers perceived app usage for text-interaction purposes, including how app usage affected student motivation and autonomy for text-based learning. Eighty-two per cent of the younger and forty-seven per cent of older students continued to use the technology after the intervention, but in various degrees.
Conclusions: Based on these findings, students with reading difficulties seem to be able to use AT in order to assimilate text (i.e., to read) and to communicate text (i.e., to write), and, thus, AT has the potential to promote participation in regular education. Future research should focus on how to customize assistive technology support in order to better utilize the potential.
Introduction: Success of e-health relies on the extent to which the related technology, such as the electronic device, is accepted by its users. However, there has been limited research on the patients’ perspective on use of e-health-related technology in rehabilitation care.
Objective: To explore the usage of common electronic devices among rehabilitation patients with access to email and investigate their preferences regarding their usage in rehabilitation.
Methods: Adult patients who were admitted for inpatient and/or outpatient rehabilitation and were registered with an email address were invited to complete an electronic questionnaire regarding current and preferred use of information and communication technologies in rehabilitation care.
Results: 190 out of 714 invited patients completed the questionnaire, 94 (49%) female, mean age 49 years (SD 16). 149 patients (78%) used one or more devices every day, with the most frequently used devices were: PC/laptop (93%), smartphone (57%) and tablet (47%). Patients mostly preferred to use technology for contact with health professionals (mean 3.15, SD 0.79), followed by access to their personal record (mean 3.09, SD 0.78) and scheduling appointments with health professionals (mean 3.07, SD 0.85).
Conclusion: Most patients in rehabilitation used one or more devices almost every day and wish to use these devices in rehabilitation.
The purpose of this study is to improve web-based employability interventions for employees with work-related health problems for both intervention content and study design by means of a pilot economic evaluation.
Uptake rate analysis for the intervention elements, cost effectiveness, cost utility and subgroup analyses were conducted to identify potential content-related intervention improvements. Differences in work ability and quality-adjusted life years and overall contribution of resource items to the total costs were assessed. These were used to guide study design improvements.
Sixty-three participants were a-select allocated to either the intervention (n = 29) or the control (n = 34) group. Uptake regarding the intervention elements ranged between 3% and 70%. Cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses resulted in negative effects although higher total costs. Incremental effects were marginal (work ability −0.51; QALY −0.01).
The web-based tool to enhance employability among work disabled employees requires improvements regarding targeting and intensity; outcome measures selected and collection of cost data. With respect to the studies of disability and rehabilitation, the findings and methods presented in this pilot economic evaluation could guide the assessment of future assistive “e-health” technologies.
Purpose: This pilot study explored the use of virtual reality-based games as an enjoyable yet effective intervention to improve skills in children with developmental disabilities. Although the intervention was primarily targeted at the enhancement of motor skills, the children’s communication, cognitive and social/emotional skills were also monitored and changes, if any, were tracked during this period.
Methods: Therapists guided 5 children (4 boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder and 1 girl with Learning Disability) while they played carefully chosen games on the Xbox-Kinect, in individual sessions. Each child attended between 4 and 6 sessions over a span of one month. Therapists used a 4-point rating scale to evaluate specific skills in each of the four domains (motor, communication, cognitive and social/emotional) at the beginning of the intervention, and again at the end.
Results: Pre-and post-intervention scores revealed that the children made significant progress, not only in certain motor skills but also in skills from the cognitive and social/emotional domains. None of the children regressed in any of the skills monitored from the different domains.
Conclusions: Initial findings indicate that virtual reality games provide a useful platform for building interventions for children with developmental disabilities. There is much scope for future research in this area. The results of the study provide insights into the skills which might require prolonged, consistent inputs during the intervention, and the ones which might be acquired quickly through leaps in learning. The different ways in which children with varied developmental profiles might benefit from virtual reality-based interventions were also highlighted.
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