Older people with cognitive impairment need support in their everyday living. IN LIFE an EC co-funded project aims to organize large-scale and multi-country pilot applications, by providing interoperable, open, personalised and seamless ICT solutions that support older persons in all key home activities, communication, health maintenance, travel, mobility and socialisation tasks, with novel, scalable and viable business models.
This paper provides an overview of the construction of a conceptual framework regarding ICT-Assistive Technology (ICT-AT) competence development, designed to gain awareness of the elements involved and to facilitate the understanding and exchange among stakeholders of the ENTELIS (European Network for Technology Enhanced Learning in an Inclusive Society) project. The framework was designed based on the basic principles of Activity Theory, which however have been adapted and adjusted to the project's objectives. Hence, it includes a map of actors and other parameters functioning in a person surrounding “ecosystem”, and it allows us to understand and map roles, expectations, barriers, as well as to devise solutions to tackle digital divide. Taking as a starting and central point the person and his/her wish to self-determination and fulfilment (quality of life) and the related needs, it provides a map of how the various concepts and variables interact within the theoretical and methodological perspective of the collection, description and assessment of experiences in ICT-AT education and competences development of persons with disabilities (PwD) of all ages. The conceptual framework represents two interacting learning activity systems: (a) the internal system of the end-user, which includes the end-user and his/her needs, the setting where learning takes place and the other actors involved, and (b) the external system, which embraces the internal system but also wider issues of policy and practice and experiences and ‘actors’ that contribute to the development and use of ICT and ICT-AT skills in all areas of life. The elements of these systems and their interaction provide the basis for analysing experiences and advancing knowledge relevant for bridging the digital divide.
This submission presents part of the EU funded project ENTELIS (European Network for Technology Enhanced Learning in an Inclusive Society), which aims to address issues of digital divide and digital equity for people with disabilities of all ages, and to increase participation and social inclusion. This paper presents the main activities and outcomes of the research work package of the project (WP3), from one of the partner countries, Cyprus. The aim of the conducted research was to identify the conceptions and beliefs of end-users, trainers, and service/technology providers and professionals, on the multifaceted relation between ICT/ICT-AT (Information Communication Technology – Assistive Technology) and learning of technology. Data collection involved the development and administration of three semi-structured interview protocols, one for each group of participants, in five different European countries. Results have been compiled to develop a State-of-Art Report on ICT and ICT-AT education and learning, highlighting the main trends, as well the main present barriers, emergent and future needs in terms of analysis, acquisition and reinforcing of digital competences bridging the worlds of education and work.
This exploratory case study investigated how ICT can support children with ADHD and/or autism and their families in their daily activities. We focus in particular on the suitability of mainstream technology for such support. Two cases are presented, and implications for practice are discussed. The findings indicate that mainstream ICT can be of assistance, but that its implementation can be challenging in particular in regards to elaborate technological setup routines, vulnerability to malfunction, and time needed for assessment, training and follow-up. The work continues in the ongoing R&D-project Is it possible?.
The United Nations' position is that digital access is a matter involving equality between groups of people, the securing of democratic rights, and equal opportunities for all citizens. This study investigates digital equality in school and leisure between young people with and without disabilities. A cross-sectional design with group comparisons was applied. Participants were young people (10–18 years of age) with disabilities (n=389) and a reference group in about the same ages. Data were collected by a survey focusing on access to and engagement in ICT activities in school and during leisure time. The results demonstrated young people with disabilities had restricted participation in computer use in educational activities, in comparison to young people in general. During leisure time young people with disabilities had a leading position compared to the reference group with respect to internet use in a variety of activities. Beneficial environmental conditions at home (and the reverse in schools) are discussed as parts of the explanation for the differing engagement levels at home and in school, and among young people with disabilities and young people in general.
Conclusion: Schools need to prioritise use of ICT by young people with disabilities.
This paper presents LUDI, an interdisciplinary network of research centred on the topic of play for children with disabilities. The primary aim of the network is to ensure the theme is given the widest recognition as an independent field of research and intervention. Currently, the network comprises over 80 researchers and practitioners from 27 European countries. It is funded by the EU COST Programme through the means of an interdisciplinary Action started in May 2014 and lasting four years. The present contribution will discuss the scientific and social background and their implications that lead to the creation of the network, activities carried out during the first year of the Action and introduces the expected results of the ongoing activities.
Computer-based technology is an emerging modality to facilitate upper limb rehabilitation post neurological damage. A feasibility project using MIRA technology in an adult outpatient neurophysiotherapy service was conducted. Ten patients trialled nine MIRA games that promoted discrete and continuous unilateral and bilateral upper limb movements. The effect of MIRA use on usual service operation as well as any adverse events was noted. Patient views of using MIRA were explored through self-reported questionnaires. For six patients, comparison of amount and frequency of active upper limb exercises using MIRA and typical prescribed upper limb exercises was made. Use of MIRA did not negatively affect service operation and was not associated with any adverse event reporting. The majority of patients enjoyed using MIRA and felt that it was a useful modality to supplement existing prescribed upper limb exercises. Those with previous experience of technology expressed the most positive feedback. There is evidence that MIRA tasks may facilitate intensive repetitive upper limb movements, although some patients reported in-exercise discomfort. In conclusion, it was feasible to use MIRA with adult patients post neurological damage presenting with upper limb motor dysfunction, particularly those patients with proximal upper limb motor dysfunction previously familiar with computer use or gaming experience.
The telepresence robot is a type of technology used to socialize with people in remote places. If this technology is efficient, it could be an alternative means to attend social activities such as going to school and work for people who have difficulty to go out because of motor impairments. The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of using a telepresence robot in the marketplace by individuals with motor impairments. Three participants were involved with trial use for attending university courses for a month and the initial results are shown.
The hand function for persons with cervical spinal cord injury (PCSCI) is most frequently cause difficulties in leading normal lives. The purpose of this study was to test the usability of a new writing assistive device (NWAD) for PCSCI. To access its usability, the authors design usability testing method and test the NWAD to five individuals with cervical spinal cord injury. From the usability testing, we have found number of issues that lead us to key design concept about developing the NWAD. The NWAD will be redesigned based on the result of the present study. We expect that the NWAD will help PCSCI use their affected hand better and improve the level of independence and quality of life.
We studied an artificial intelligent assisted interaction between a computer and a human with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPI). In order to speed up AAC, we extended a former study of typing performance optimization using a framework that included head movement controlled assistive technology and an onscreen writing device. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analysed with mathematical methods, manual interpretation and semi-supervised machine video annotation. As the result of our research, in contrast to the former experiment's conclusions, we found that our participant had at least two different typing strategies. To maximize his communication efficiency, a more complex assistive tool is suggested, which takes the different methods into consideration.
The paper is a case-study introducing a national project in Hungary establishing a countrywide public administration customer service system where accessibility was a key issue. Starting from the concept the paper describes the methods and organisational background how accessible design was integrated in the planning method and gives a feedback of site experiences
This paper outlines the remit of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council KT-EQUAL (Knowledge Transfer for Extending Quality of Life for older and disabled people) programme.
Case examples drawing on the range of activities undertaken by KT-EQUAL highlight where assistive technology developments have been facilitated, the value of network activities and an underpinning model of engagement and collaboration.
Given an increasing emphasis on the impact of research the model and innovative approaches deployed by KT-EQUAL are even more crucial in future developments which aim to ensure that research can be used to benefit society.
A systematic way to select new ideas for research and development between two organisations is reported. It was applied to ideas that were generated from acute clinical settings by Occupational Therapists with a view to collaborate with nearby university academics from many disciplines. The process, assessment factors, use of ordinal scales with thresholding and an arbitrary formula are described. Challenges in the approach are discussed. Suitability for use by others in the AT field, other care related or even very different contexts is noted with some adaption and caveats.
This paper presents the Semantic Alignment Tool, a unified, classified, ontological framework, for the description of assistive solutions that comprises information from different sources automatically. The Semantic Alignment Tool is a component of the Cloud4All/GPII infrastructure that enables users to add and/or modify descriptions of assistive technologies and align their specific settings with similar settings in an ontological model based on ISO 9999. The current work presents the interaction of the Semantic Alignment Tool with external sources that contain descriptions and metadata for Assistive Technologies (ATs) in order to achieve their synchronization in the same semantic model.
The aim of this paper was to develop and validate an ontology for one class of assistive technology (AT), namely physically controllable pointing devices, using the Delphi method. Six occupational therapists with AT expertise identified important items and categories to the pointing device prescription through a three-round, structured process consisting of responses to a series of questionnaires. The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was used to assess the interrater reliability of items included in categories related to the pointing devices and to the user profile. During the first round, the ICC ranged from 0.19 to 0.97; this improved to ICCs ranging from 0.72 to 1.0 during the second round. A full consensus was reached by the experts during the final round which included 218 items, divided into five categories, for the pointing device list, and 168 items, divided into six categories, for the user profile list. This ontology is expected to help achieve a more systematic regulation of the AT field, leading to greater standardization and increased knowledge sharing.
This paper proposes an instruction method of brush strokes utilizing haptic devices. Focusing attention to the magnitude difference between the horizontal and the vertical in brush strokes, we introduced a position/force hybrid scheme for determining traction forces to be fed back to users: the horizontal component of the force was given to reduce the horizontal position deviation of a learner from an expert, and the vertical component was given as reaction forces of the expert-exerted forces. As an example, a bush stroke experiment was conducted for some Brahmi characters.
The potential of Information and Communication Technologies to improve the overall quality of life of all citizens cannot be underestimated. In particular, in the context of Ambient Intelligent environments, technological developments provide a great opportunity for the integration and the improvement of quality of life of people from vulnerable groups (patients, elderly, people with disabilities). In this context, the paper presents the aims, objectives and preliminary results of a National research project in Greece, named KRIPIS “Quality of Life”, implemented by three research Institutes of FORTH, targeting post-heart attack elderly patients at their home environments.
Nowadays the development of virtual reality-based application is one of the most dynamically growing areas. These applications have a wide user base, more and more devices which are providing several kinds of user interactions and are available on the market. In the applications where the not-handheld devices are not necessary, the potential is that these can be used in educational, entertainment and rehabilitation applications. The purpose of this paper is to examine the precision and the efficiency of the not-handheld devices with user interaction in the virtual reality-based applications. The first task of the developed application is to support the rehabilitation process of stroke patients in their homes. A newly developed application will be introduced in this paper, which uses the two popular devices, the Shimmer sensor and the Microsoft Kinect sensor. To identify and to validate the actions of the user these sensors are working together in parallel mode. For the problem solving, the application is available to record an educational pattern, and then the software compares this pattern to the action of the user. The goal of the current research is to examine the extent of the difference in the recognition of the gestures, how precisely the two sensors are identifying the predefined actions. This could affect the rehabilitation process of the stroke patients and influence the efficiency of the rehabilitation. This application was developed in C# programming language and uses the original Shimmer connecting application as a base. During the working of this application it is possible to teach five-five different movements with the use of the Shimmer and the Microsoft Kinect sensors. The application can recognize these actions at any later time. This application uses a file-based database and the runtime memory of the application to store the saved data in order to reach the actions easier. The conclusion is that much more precise data were collected from the Microsoft Kinect sensor than the Shimmer sensors.
The topic of this article and work was to create an application for movement therapy, which can help the rehabilitation of stroke patients. The application makes it possible to make unique exercises for different patients, adapting to the special personal needs. The developed real time gesture analyzing algorithm works in the background of the application, which has not yet spread on the field of medical devices. I deal with one part of this wide field in my dissertation, with the rehabilitation gesture analyzing. The data received from the Kinect sensor is processed by a location based gesture analyzing algorithm, and the results show that the software is suitable for the improvement of the rehabilitation process. It was a key aspect to create a simple interface. I achieved this with the use of the C# language and WPF technology.
This longitudinal preliminary study aims to describe the components and features of the eChez-Soi home-based telerehabilitation platform, and present preliminary results on practitioners' readiness for and perception of its usability. Four patients receiving chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer followed an 8-week home-based telerehabilitation program with the new eChez-Soi platform and four healthy adults used it for 2 weeks. The users' perception was very good, with an overall satisfaction rate of 4.6±0.4 (max. score=5) for the patients, 4.8±0.2 for the healthy adults and 4.4±0.3 for the practitioners. Total practitioner telehealth readiness was 73.5±9.1 (max score=85), suggesting that certain items, for at least one practitioner, may adversely impact the use of telehealth. These preliminary results support the usability of this new platform and suggest that practitioner telehealth readiness is reinforced with experience.
Assistive Technology Practitioners are often engaged in research, evaluation and other reporting activities, but struggle to complete publications reporting the work. This paper presents three evidence-based strategies for increasing writing output: (i) write to a structure; (ii) use snacks and sprints, and (iii) get social. These strategies may be useful for AT Practitioners wanting to increase their writing output.
Background: Finnish Assistive Technology Device Service centers raised the question about education to the full-time workers of ATD Services. They nominated a group which included representatives of universities, ATD Service centers and national authorities. This small group drew up background questionnaires concerning the education, its content and length. Three universities started the education, the aim of which was to learn new methods to develop their own work, learning by doing at work with their superiors. This continuous professional education corresponded to 30 ECTS credits and lasted 10 months.
Results: Based on the feedback from the guiding group of CPE, students and their superiors, this type of education is needed. It met its goals by giving students methods to develop their work and broaden their view on ATD service when having discussions with other experts. Continuous professional education needs to be developed further and it could also be part of joined European education with national elements.
The purpose of the Arabic Symbol Dictionary research discussed in this paper, is to provide a resource of culturally, environmentally and linguistically suitable symbols to aid communication and literacy skills. A participatory approach with the use of online social media and a bespoke symbol management system has been established to enhance the process of matching a user based Arabic and English core vocabulary with appropriate imagery. Participants including AAC users, their families, carers, teachers and therapists who have been involved in the research from the outset, collating the vocabularies, debating cultural nuances for symbols and critiquing the design of technologies for selection procedures. The positive reaction of those who have voted on the symbols with requests for early use have justified the iterative nature of the methodologies used for this part of the project. However, constant re-evaluation will be necessary and in depth analysis of all the data received has yet to be completed.
ALS patients usually use augmentative and alternative communication tools to communicate with other people, but the assessment tools, including the selection of an input switch, are very difficult to operate. In this study, we developed a novel device to measure the physical ability of patients to operate the input switch with a push lever. The study focused on the amount of pushing and the power required to operate the input switch, and the effectiveness was verified.
This qualitative case study describes a 9-year-old child, diagnosed with homonymous hemianopia, left side weakness and seizures that has been followed by Access to Communication and Technology Unit in Malta for 5 years. The child previously used a communication book and now uses an iPad as a speech generating device. A semi-structured interview was utilised with the parent to explore preference for each AAC system and the reasons for it. The impact of each AAC system on the family and on the child's communication skills, and perceived barriers in the implementation of the AACs were also explored. The child's own experience using the AAC systems was also investigated using a structured interview format. Talking Mats was used to support the child's understanding of the questions and to explore her perspectives on the two AAC systems using Yes-No responses. The parent interview was analysed thematically and represented visually using a thematic network. This was compared with child responses. Four organising themes emerged including barriers, benefits, facilitators, and expectations. Specific barriers included self-funding in order to provide the child with the best fit high-tech AAC. Perceived benefits for both AAC systems were that it increased her communicative intent. The child's mother perceived access to increased vocabulary and capacity for sentence building, operational autonomy as well as voice output as a benefit of the SGD. The child's results indicated a preference for the high-tech AAC because she found it easier to navigate than the low-tech AAC.