Answered Questions: Monthly News for the Disability Community

Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. Each month, we look through the searches on our blog and through the information requests made by our patrons who speak Spanish and pick a topic that fills the largest need. Each resource mentioned below is associated with this month’s information need. We search the various Spanish language news sources and feeds throughout the month to bring you these articles. With the exception of the NIDILRR Projects and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked. This month’s question is: How does assistive technology (AT) benefit people with disabilities? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss the advancement of cognitive technologies for people with cognitive disabilities; technologies that support successful aging with disabilities; provide information to help people with disabilities and the elderly live a more independent life; discuss new augmentative and alternative communication technologies; discuss R&D&I for people with disabilities; discuss the development of a new pneumatic power wheelchair; discuss accessibility barriers to online education for people with intellectual disabilities; discuss assistive technologies for the inclusive education of people with cerebral palsy;  discuss job accommodations and AT support for employees with autoimmune diseases; and discuss the digital literacy of the elderly in relation to their e-inclusion.

NIDILRR Projects:

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Advancing Cognitive Technologies (RERC-ACT) (90RE5019) (English) focuses on researching and developing cognitive technologies for people with cognitive disabilities that are designed to improve their quality of life, along with that of their caregivers. The RERC-ACT’s six research and development activities are focused on expanding the cognitive technology standards for work, training, dissemination/knowledge utilization, and commercialization such as the performance of usability tests with the myriad of technologies used by persons with cognitive disabilities so as to improve consumer selection of the “right” technology; facilitating improvements of the design and development of technologies that are existent or emerging for adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI); and the development of a tablet-based simulator that enables researchers to test specific user interface features with specific populations.

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technologies to Support Successful Aging with Disability (RERC TechSAge) (90RE5016) (English) conducts advanced rehabilitation engineering and technical research and development to increase the knowledge about, availability of, and access to universally-designed technologies that help people aging with a disability to sustain independence, maintain healthy, participate in society, and participate in basic activities of daily living at home and in the community. The RERC TechSAge also provides resources, tools, videos, and webinars dealing with community resources, professional organizations/conferences, the innovative design creation process, reducing barriers, and universal design principles for interfaces.

Articles from the NIDILRR Community:

The second sixty years: Aging at home: Assistive technology for older adults (O20418) is a guide in English that provides information to assist people with disabilities and older adults in living a more independent life with the use of AT. This guide includes general solutions, examples and descriptions of AT, and home modifications.

Patient communication in health care settings: New opportunities for augmentative and alternative communication (J73086) (English) asks that augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) practitioners offer their knowledge and skills to support a broader range of people who confront communication challenges in different health care settings. This article provides ideas and examples about preparing people with complex communication needs for the medical encounters that they face.


White Book of R&D&I for people with disabilities and older people (I21547) (Spain) has the objectives of defining the priority lines that need to be considered in the Spanish National Plan of R&D&I in the rehabilitation technologies sector; encouraging the cooperation between public institutions that are directly related to the exploitation of technological results; increasing social awareness of AT; and stimulating the interest of economic and social groups that are associated with products and services for people with disabilities in relation with R&D&I. This book introduces the reader to technologies for people with disabilities and for the elderly; discusses R&D&I in the technological sector for the elderly and people with disabilities; and discusses the opportunities and absences in R&D for the innovation in rehabilitation techniques, technical aids in mobility, technical aids for visual impairment, technical aids for daily living, hearing prostheses, access to public and private means of transportation, architectural accessibility, technical aids for communication and information, and accessibility to places of employment; and discusses the priority lines of R&D and complementary measures. You can find this book in the Center of State References for Personal Autonomy and Assistive Technology website.


Development of a Pneumatic Power Wheelchair (PneuPaw) (90SF0019) is developing a novel pneumatically powered push-rim activated power assist wheelchair (PneuPaw) and is investigating its compliance with ANSI/RESNA wheelchair standards. The results of this research offer a helpful and medically necessary alternative that can help prevent upper limb disorders that are common to the long-term manual wheelchair propulsion or to maintain health and improve mobility.


Accessibility barriers to online education for young adults with intellectual disabilities (O20302) an article in English from the NIDILRR-funded Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project on Inclusive Cloud and Web Computing (English) addresses the barriers that students with intellectual disabilities (ID) face during online postsecondary education. The article describes the necessary skills and common interfaces that have been identified as being problematic for students with ID in postsecondary education. Within the article, the authors share scenarios that describe the obstacles that students with ID face when trying to complete tasks such as information retrieval, password management, and file management. The authors provide examples of techniques and technologies that did or did not help students to complete these tasks. The authors also provide recommendations for mitigating these barriers.

Assistive technology for the inclusive education of people with cerebral palsy: A critical review of the literature (I241557) (Colombia) provides an in-depth and updated review of the literature on AT for the inclusive education of people with cerebral palsy (CP). The review of 45 full-text publications in English and Spanish found that the lack of knowledge of AT and its absence in classrooms limits significantly the performance of students with CP in the areas of education, communication, self-care, and mobility. Abstract also available in Spanish.


Job accommodations and AT support: Workers with autoimmune diseases (O20396) is a guide in English that offers an overview of reasonable accommodations and AT products that help address workplace limitations due to the effects of the most common autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Hashimoto’s disease, and myasthenia gravis. The guide also discusses the shared limitations experienced by people with autoimmune diseases, such as fatigue, weakness, temperature sensitivity, photosensitivity, fine motor limitations, and visual disabilities. Finally, the guide discusses reasonable accommodations and AT devices that can be utilized to address these limitations.


Digital literacy as a tool for the e-inclusion of the elderly (I241877) (Spain) discusses the use of literacy as a tool for the access to electronic resources for seniors. It is essential to train the elderly in the resources offered by the information society so as to achieve their e-inclusion. A theoretical approach was used in the concept of digital literacy to show common parameters of use and exploitation of information and communications technology (ICT). A review of these parameters was made of various studies on the psychosocial characteristics of seniors in ICT learning. The results of the study suggest some adaptations in ICT training for the elderly through recommendations to value the peculiarities of this group in their learning processes. Abstract also available in Spanish.


  • AbleData (United States) provides objective information on assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment that is available from domestic and international sources. They maintain and expand the AbleData database of assistive technology and develops information and referral services that are responsive to the technology product needs of consumers and professionals. You can search their website or contact an information specialist by calling 800/227-0216 (Se habla español).
  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN) (United States) provides free, expert, and confidential guidance to employers and employees in English on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. JAN also provides guidance on workplace accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and self-employment or entrepreneurship for people with disabilities. JAN also provides resources in Spanish.
  • The Pass It On Center (United States) (English) is the national AT reuse center and provides a map to find the reuse center closest to you. They also provide a knowledgebase, webinars, recall list, and conference presentations, along with an FAQ.
  • NARIC’s Librarian’s Picks: Assistive Technology is a great resource for those starting to learn about and look for AT. The resources listed in this page are librarian-selected agencies, organizations, and online resources. Also available in Spanish.
  • Assistive Technology and Rehabilitation: Research Activities and Scientific Advances (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development – US) describes the work of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), which is research on AT and rehabilitation. NCMRR is developing and supporting the application of devices to improve the human-environment interface and re-establish or improve the capability of a person to function in their environment.

Further Research:

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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