Assistive Technologies, Tools and Resources for the Access and Use of Information and Communication Technologies by People with Disabilities

Assistive Technologies, Tools and Resources for the Access and Use of Information and Communication Technologies by People with Disabilities

Betania Groba (University of A Coruña, Spain), Thais Pousada (University of A Coruña, Spain) and Laura Nieto (University of A Coruña, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-206-0.ch001
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A person with disabilities can present difficulties in occupational performance. It is necessary to develop a set of resources, technological or otherwise, to offset these difficulties, and contribute to the integration of people with functional diversity in society. These resources are called support products or technology support, but do not eliminate the deficits, they can eliminate the limitation of the performance of persons with disabilities. Moreover, the Information Technology and Communications (ICT) were formed as an alternative to personal empowerment of people with disabilities. To access and use of these new technologies are used to support specific products. In the market there is a diversity and variety of assistive technology, so it is necessary the classification and analysis of various products before the person can use it. The purpose of this chapter is to provide information about assistive technology, and specifically those directly related to ICT.
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As individuals and members of a social community, people need to carry out a series of activities in order to maintain their habits and roles, as well as balance in different areas of performance.

On occasions, people may have either temporary or permanent disabilities that affect their abilities, as a result of one or more alterations in their functions and/or bodily structures (World Health Organization, 2001).

Spanish Law 39/2006 on the Promotion of Personal Autonomy and Attention for Persons in a Situation of Dependency defines the concept of autonomy as the ability to control, confront and adopt, on one’s own initiative, personal decisions regarding how to live according to one’s own standards and preferences, as well as to carry out the basic activities of daily life.

Two conclusions may be derived from this definition: the individual is an agent of their own personal actions (self-governance), and gradually acquires autonomy through their personal development.

Focusing on this meaning, functional deficit does not imply, in itself, any reduction in the person’s degree of autonomy. This concept goes beyond bodily structures or functions, and belongs to the intellectual sphere of the individual, constituting the capacity for decision, awareness of oneself, and self-governance (ASEM Federation, 2008).

However, the presence of functional deficits may lead to limitations in a person’s activity if they do not have the suitable resources available to overcome this situation. Finally, if society is not prepared to include persons with some type of limitation in its activities, due to the presence of a deficit, and does not develop or apply the necessary instruments to ensure their participation in a situation of equal opportunities, then a situation known as restriction in participation may occur (World Health Organization, 2001).

As a result of the appearance of this social restriction, the individual experiences a major reduction in their level of personal autonomy, understood as the ability to make decisions. In other words, the person has sufficient self-governance to choose or decide what they want to do (when, how, where, with whom), but the obstacles or impositions of the environment (whether these are physical, social, cultural, spiritual, virtual, temporal or even personal) constitute a genuine impediment to the full development and participation of the person.

Faced with this situation, there is a need to develop a series of resources – technological or otherwise – that make it possible to compensate for these difficulties, reduce the distance between exclusion and participation, and contribute towards the integration of persons with functional diversity into society as capable and self-governing citizens.

And so, from the second half of the twentieth century onwards, there has been a genuine technological revolution, leading to the development of different devices, tools, resources and solutions aimed at achieving this objective.

The term “Assistive Technology” was proposed in the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988, although the concept, under a series of guises or none in particular, long predates this legislation (Sherer, 2001).

In order to achieve more independent functionality and to compensate limitations in activity caused by some type of deficit in bodily structures and/or functions, people with functional diversity require different types of assistance. This support is necessary in different personal spaces and surroundings, such as the home, school, workplace or leisure areas in the community.

A wide range of resources exists for promoting personal autonomy, and may involve assistance from a third person (a family member acting as a carer, or a paid personal assistant), a guide dog, or assistive technology (Sherer, 2001).

In recent years, we have witnessed remarkable progress in the development of assistive technologies, above all in the field of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). This situation has facilitated their incorporation as basic resources for promoting personal autonomy.

Assistive devices are tools used to encourage independence in the functioning of persons with some type of physical limitation (Sherer, 2001). However, in order to ensure that assistive technologies comply with this main objective, it is essential to promote the resources, disseminate the strategies used to provide them, and to publicise the different methods for information and consultation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Assistive Technologies/Assistive Device/Assistive Products: Any product (including devices, equipment, instruments, technologies and software) that is specially manufactured or available on the market to prevent, compensate for, control, mitigate or neutralise deficiencies, limitations to activity and restrictions to participation.

ICT/ICTs: Information and Communication Technologies. A set of technologies, components and techniques related to the media and the processing and transmission of information.

Personal Autonomy: The ability to control, manage and take his own initiative, personal decisions about how to live according to the rules and preferences, and to develop the basic activities of daily living.

Disability/Disabilities: Part of the multi-aspects of the interaction between the individual and social environmental context in which it operates. Therefore a disabled person is a person who has impairment, activity limitation or participation restriction (World Health Organization).

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Javier Pereira
Chapter 1
Betania Groba, Thais Pousada, Laura Nieto
A person with disabilities can present difficulties in occupational performance. It is necessary to develop a set of resources, technological or... Sample PDF
Assistive Technologies, Tools and Resources for the Access and Use of Information and Communication Technologies by People with Disabilities
Chapter 2
Sarah Power, Saba Moghimi, Brian Nhan, Tom Chau
As the number of individuals without physical access to communication or environmental interaction escalates, there are increasing efforts to... Sample PDF
Nascent Access Technologies for Individuals with Severe Motor Impairments
Chapter 3
José Millán-Calenti, Ana Maseda
The potential impact of new assistive technologies to help people stay in their own homes for longer, age well and independently is a crucial... Sample PDF
Elderly People, Disability, Dependence and New Technologies
Chapter 4
Martine Smith, Janice Murray
Over the last 30 years, significant advances have been made in the technology supporting augmentative and alternative communication devices.... Sample PDF
Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices: The Voices of Adult Users
Chapter 5
Bruno Andò, Salvatore Baglio, Salvatore La Malfa, Vincenzo Marletta
Although several aids have been developed to help people with visual impairment in the accomplishment of daily activities, indoor and outdoor... Sample PDF
Innovative Smart Sensing Solutions for the Visually Impaired
Chapter 6
Manuel Prado-Velasco, Carlos Fernández-Peruchena
Persistent Developmental Stuttering affects 1-2% of the world adult population. Its etiology is still unknown, although modern neuroimaging... Sample PDF
An Advanced Concept of Altered Auditory Feedback as a Prosthesis-Therapy for Stuttering Founded on a Non-Speech Etiologic Paradigm
Chapter 7
Pablo Arias, Javier Cudeiro
In the last years the role of sensory rhythmic stimulation (SRS) on motor rehabilitation in PD has become a new line of interest for researches and... Sample PDF
The Role of Sensory Rhythmic Stimulation on Motor Rehabilitation in Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
Chapter 8
Pablo Arias, Nelson Espinosa, Javier Cudeiro
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a stimulation technique introduced to clinical practise by Anthony Baker in 1985. TMS has become very... Sample PDF
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as a Tool for Neurorehabilitation in Parkinson’s Disease
Chapter 9
Yu-Luen Chen, Te-Son Kuo
A feedback control functional electrical stimulation (FES) system was proposed to prevent quadriceps weakness and drop-foot of the hemiplegia during... Sample PDF
A Feedback Controlled FES in Rehabilitation
Chapter 10
Shuichi Ino, Mitsuru Sato
Metal hydride materials can store a huge amount of hydrogen and can convert energy due to enthalpy change through a hydride reaction. Artificial... Sample PDF
Human-Centered Metal Hydride Actuator Systems for Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology
Chapter 11
Simon Harper, Yeliz Yesilada
Web accessibility conjures the vision of designers, technologists, and researchers valiantly making the World–Wide–Web (Web) open to disabled users.... Sample PDF
Web Accessibility: Current Trends
Chapter 12
Olga Santos, Carmen Barrera, Emanuela Mazzone, Jesus Boticario
This chapter presents a technology solution based on a recommender system supporting people with intellectual disabilities in their work integration... Sample PDF
Catering for Personal Autonomy with E-Mentoring Supported by Recommendations
Chapter 13
Fernando Alonso, José Fuertes, Ángel González, Loïc Martínez
There are specific usability requirements for developing dual interfaces, that is, graphical user interfaces that are also adapted for blind users.... Sample PDF
Blind User Interfacing: Requirements, Models and a Framework
Chapter 14
Yu-Luen Chen, Walter Chang, Te-Son Kuo
This chapter reports on the development of an eyeglass-type infrared-controlled computer interface for the disabled. This system may serve to assist... Sample PDF
Sensors in Assistive Technology
Chapter 15
Reinhold Scherer, Rajesh Rao
Brain-computer interface (BCI) technology augments the human capability to interact with the environment by directly linking the brain to artificial... Sample PDF
Non-Manual Control Devices: Direct Brain-Computer Interaction
Chapter 16
Jaime Lloret, Miguel Garcia, Hugo Coll, Miguel Edo
Sensor networks are one of the most powerful technologies applied to control and supervising systems. They are present in almost all environments... Sample PDF
Wireless Sensor Networks and Systems
Chapter 17
Samit Bhattacharya
Many individuals with speech and motor disorders face problems in expressing themselves in an easy and intelligible way. An array of Augmentative... Sample PDF
Model-based Approaches for Scanning Keyboard Design: Present State and Future Directions
Chapter 18
Verónica Pensoosi, Blanca Villamía, Manuel Gimeno
Projects from the Orange Foundation in Favour of People with Obstacles to Communication
Chapter 19
Patricia Wielandt
First this chapter will present an overview about assistive technology (AT). Next factors identified in the literature and thought to influence AT... Sample PDF
Occupational Therapists’ Perceptions about the Non-Use of Recommended Assistive Technology (AT)
Chapter 20
Jesus Tomas, Jaime Lloret, Diana Bri, Sandra Sendra
Over the years, several systems have been developed in order to improve the quality of life of the disabled and elderly people. Moreover, many... Sample PDF
Sensors and their Application for Disabled and Elderly People
Chapter 21
José Millán-Calenti, Ana Maseda
One of the priorities of a modern society must be to offer all individuals the possibility to access all resources available. In this sense, there... Sample PDF
Telegerontology®: A New Technological Resource for Elderly Support
Chapter 22
Laura Nieto, Betania Groba, Francisco Servia
The elderly show very low rates of access to and use of the new technologies in comparison with their significant weight in the overall population.... Sample PDF
Experience Using Information and Communication Technologies with Elderly People
Chapter 23
Thais Pousada, Miriam Piñeiro, Yolanda Vizcaya
Intervention using the New Technologies in children suffering from Infantile Cerebral Palsy (ICP) is aimed at attaining or promoting individual... Sample PDF
Experiences using Information and Communication Technologies with Children Affected by Cerebral Palsy
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