Answered Questions is a monthly resource for the Spanish language Disability Community that fills an information need. This month’s question is: I have low vision, which is a type of sensory disability, and am looking for assistive technology (AT) to help me live independently in my community. What research, resources, and info are available to help me find the AT that I need? This edition of Answered Questions includes items that discuss the development and evaluation of rehabilitation technology and methods for people with sensory disabilities; technologies to support aging-in-place; accessibility of mobile health apps for people with visual disabilities; indoor wayfinding systems for people who are legally blind; an intervention that may reduce the language learning gap in children who are Deaf or have auditory disabilities; and more. More about Answered Questions.
Through its research and development activities, the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC): Develop and Evaluate Rehabilitation Technology and Methods for Individuals with Low Vision, Blindness, and Multiple Disabilities (in English) impacts numerous barriers to opportunity faced by people who are blind, that have low vision, and that have multiple disabilities. Specifically, this RERC addresses emerging and underserved subpopulations, such as children born as premature infants with cortical visual impairment, returning veterans, people with visual impairments due to a brain injury, and people with combined vision and hearing disabilities; access to graphical information who are blind or who have severe visual disabilities; improvements in indoor and outdoor navigation; and access by this population to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers.
The RERC on Technologies to Support Aging-in-Place for People with Long-Term Disabilities (TechSAge RERC) (in English) advances knowledge and accelerates the development, modification, and testing of technology-based interventions and strategies for use in the home and community to promote aging-in-place and reduce secondary conditions among people with long-term disabilities, including people with sensory disabilities. For example, the project Voice-Activated Digital Assistants to Support Health and Independence: Development and Instructional Support investigates the use of voice-activated digital assistants (i.e., Alexa) to support independence in older adults with disabilities. This RERC supports and empowers people with chronic conditions and long-term disabilities to age-in-place through increasing knowledge about, availability of, and access to effective design and technologies that enable people to sustain independence, maintain health, engage safely in activities at home and in the community, and fully participate in society.
From the NARIC Collection:
The article, Mobile health technology accessible to people with visual impairments (in English), discusses a study that investigated the degree to which mainstream mobile health apps that are commercially available on the market are compliant with accessibility standards to facilitate self-care by people with visual disabilities. The accessibility of mobile health apps was checked against the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The findings of the study suggest that as healthcare consumers with visual disabilities are increasingly using health apps for self-care, it should be ensured that those health apps are adequately designed to accommodate those users with visual disabilities.
Research In Focus:
The article, A Novel Technology-Based Intervention May Reduce the Language-Learning Gap for Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, discusses a study from the project Improving Outcomes Using Aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) (in English) that looked at potential benefits of an AAC technology, the technology-assisted language intervention (TALI), coupled with speech therapy in children who were DHH with language delays. The results of this study suggest that the TALI may have the potential to narrow the language learning gap for children who are DHH. The visual and audio cues, repetition, and consistent modeling for verbalization that AAC offers may help children build the skills they need to be independent communicators, which may positively impact their social, behavioral, academic, and employment outcomes as they progress through life. This article is also available in English.
People who are legally blind may have difficulty navigating large indoor spaces, such as airports or large office buildings. The article, People Who are Legally Blind Share Their Preferences for Indoor Wayfinding Systems, discusses a study that asked AT users who were legally blind to describe their preferences for an accessible indoor wayfinding system. The researchers noted that people who are legally blind could benefit from using an indoor wayfinding application to increase independence in their everyday lives. They noted that developers of indoor wayfinding applications may wish to ensure that these applications can provide multiple types of information, with mechanisms in place for the users to customize the application settings so they receive ready access to the most-desired information. This article is also available in English.
The article, Assistive Technology in the Field of Education for Deaf Students, discusses a study on the contributions made by AT in the teaching-learning process of students who are Deaf or have auditory disabilities and to verify the use of AT as a mediation tool in the inclusion of people who are Deaf or have auditory disabilities in society. The results of the study show that students who are Deaf or have auditory disabilities have a greater independence, quality of life and social expansion after attending schools that use AT in the teaching-learning process.
The article from the Adecco Foundation, New Technologies at the Service of Disability, discusses the increase of employment of people with disabilities in recent years and how this increase has been influenced by the technology revolution of recent years. The article discusses how the technological adaptations that have come about allow people with disabilities, including sensory disabilities, to perform jobs that they were excluded from, and that AT makes it possible for people with sensory and other disabilities to use their full potential in the workplace.
- The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provides examples of just some of the types of AT that people with sensory disabilities may use and how they use them to live their lives independently and in the community.
- NARIC provides Librarian’s Picks: Information Resource Sheets that list librarian-selected agencies, organizations, and online resources on various disability-related topics, including assistive technology, and sensory disabilities. These resources sheets are also available in English.
- The TechSage RERC (in English) published two Amazon Echo User Guides to assist people with sensory disabilities to set up and use their Amazon Echo. Basic Uses (PDF – in English) provides a useful and easy-to-use tool to help people learn how to use their Amazon Echo device to its full potential. Setting Up (PDF – in English) provides step-by-step, visual instructions to help users set up their Amazon Echo device so it can be properly used to perform the actions or tasks that users want to do.
- Sensory disabilities and assistive technology.
About Answered Questions 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 above 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, From the NARIC Collection, and Further Investigation, all the linked articles and resources are in Spanish – any that are in English will be clearly marked.