Accessible Button Interfaces: Improving Accessibility for Brain-Injured and Other Disabled Users

Accessible Button Interfaces: Improving Accessibility for Brain-Injured and Other Disabled Users

Jason Colman (School of Computing, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK) and Paul Gnanayutham (School of Computing, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/jwltt.2012100104
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Abstract

The number of people with brain injuries is increasing, as more people who suffer injuries survive. Some of these patients are aware of their surroundings but almost entirely unable to move or communicate. Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) can enable this group of people to use computers to communicate and carry out simple tasks in a limited manner. BCIs tend to be hard to navigate in a controlled manner, and so the use of “one button” user interfaces is explored. This one button concept can not only be used brain injured personnel with BCIs but by other categories of disabled individuals too with alternative point and click devices. A number of accessible button interfaces are described, some of which have already been implemented by the authors.
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Brain Injuries

Any brain injury which occurs after birth is called an acquired brain injury (ABI). Causes of ABI include cerebrovascular accidents, tumours, degenerative diseases, demyelinating conditions, and infectious disorders (Murdoch & Theodoros, 2001). Cerebral palsy is also an ABI, the term covers a variety of disabilities caused by damage to the infant brain (Bax et al., 2005).

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an acquired brain injury caused by trauma such as a blow to the head, an impact with a blunt object, or penetration by a sharp object. Common causes of TBI are motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, assaults, falls, and sports injuries (Lindsay & Bone, 2004). The primary mechanism in many cases of TBI is diffuse axonal injury, i.e. widespread damage to axons (brain cells) caused by shearing or rotational forces (Ponsford et al., 1995). At the microscopic level, the direction of the shear may be visible (Lindsay & Bone, 2004).

Incidence and Prevalence of Brain Injury

Tagliaferri et al. (2006) report that the mean incidence across Europe for hospitalised and fatal TBI was approx. 235 per 100 000 during the period 1980-2003.

Hyder et al. (2007) estimate that 10 million people per year are affected by TBI globally. TBI is especially prevalent in Low and Middle Income Countries, where the risk factors tend to be higher, and health systems are inadequately prepared. Road traffic injuries in Latin America and Sub Saharan Africa are the main cause of a higher TBI incidence in these regions.

Improvements in road safety have reduced the number of people who suffer a head injury. Cook & Sheikh (2000) report a 12% reduction in cyclist head injuries in England between 1991 and 1995, ascribed to the increased use of bicycle helmets over the period. Reductions in drink-driving and increased use of seat belts, crash helmets and air bags have reduced the incidence of head injury in many countries (Lindsay & Bone, 2004, p.216). As medical care has improved, the number of people who survive a brain injury has increased (Ponsford et al., 1995). Powell (1994) reports that the number of brain injured people has increased since the 1970s, because the mortality rate has dropped since that time.

Every year, 15 million people suffer a stroke. Stroke is the biggest single cause of major disability in the UK (Mackay & Mensah, 2004, p. 50).

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