Blog Archives

Assistive technology as an emerging policy and practice: Processes, challenges and future directions

This paper aims to describe the policies and procedures of the use of assistive technology (AT) to support education and social inclusion of children with disabilities in Cyprus, through the investigation of four case studies. The paper initially presents the setting of the use of technology in inclusive and special education, as very recently developed and shaped in the last five years in the Cyprus educational system. Then, each one of the four case studies of pupils, from different educational settings (primary-inclusive education, primary education-special unit, secondary-inclusive education and special school) is discussed. The case studies are presented aligned in the following axes: demographical characteristics, educational setting, type of difficulties and characteristics of disability, procedures of referral and assessment for AT, development and implementation of AT for communication, present and future threats, ethical considerations and challenges. Findings highlighted six areas related to AT in Cyprus, that need further research and development: teacher training and support for system use; consistency of and between people involved (especially educators and therapists); ongoing assessment and follow-up procedures; multidisciplinarity of support teams in and out of school; home use of systems and devices (related to funding); technical support, development and maintenance.

from Technology and Disability


Development of an AT selection tool using the ICF model

Assistive Technology (AT) is regularly provided by health and social services to many people with a wide range of needs or disabilities, to overcome barriers and difficulties in daily life. This research aims to develop a tool that may support practitioners to meet clients’ individual needs when selecting AT by using a common language and structure for the process.

A tool was developed incorporating the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) model, collating information in a systematic order. Experts in the field of AT were consulted during the development of the tool and initial evaluation, and provided positive feedback on the research aims and approach.

This paper describes the development of the tool and the potential added value of using the ICF in AT selection, with links to existing models and instruments. Plans for further development and testing of the tool are outlined.

from Technology and Disability


The right to assistive technology: for whom, for what, and by whom?

Despite its facilitating role in creating opportunities for people with disabilities to exercise human rights, access to assistive technology is limited in many countries. It is therefore promising that the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) addresses this area. The purpose of this study was to analyse the assistive technology content of the CRPD from a basic human rights perspective in order to clarify its limitations and opportunities for formulation of policies and implementation strategies. Data were collected through a content analysis of the CRPD. It is concluded that a non-discriminatory interpretation of the provisions entitles all people with disabilities to a right to demand available and affordable assistive technology. Ensuring this right is a national as well as an international responsibility.

from Disability & Society

Augmentative and alternative communication intervention in children with traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury

Children and youth who sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or spinal cord injury (SCI) may have temporary or permanent disabilities that affect their speech, language and communication abilities. Having a way to communicate can help reduce children’s confusion and anxiety, as well as enable them to participate more actively in the rehabilitation process and thus, recover from their injuries. In addition, effective communication with family, care staff, peers, teachers and friends is essential to long-term recovery and positive outcomes for children with TBI and SCI as they are integrated back into their communities. This article describes how rehabilitation teams can use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and assistive technologies (AT) to support the communication of children recovering from TBI and SCI over time.

<p><p>from the <a href=”Journal” _mce_href=””><em>Journal”>”><em>Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine</em></a></p>

Effects of AAC interventions on communication and language for young children with complex communication needs

Children with complex communication needs (CCN) who require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) are at considerable risk in many aspects of their development: (a) functional communication skills, (b) speech development, (c) language development, (d) cognitive/conceptual development, (e) literacy development, (f) social participation, (g) access to education, and (h) overall quality of life. Early intervention is critical to address these areas and provide successful and functional outcomes. AAC offers the potential to enhance communication, language, and learning for children with significant communication disabilities. This paper provides an overview of the effects of AAC interventions on communication, behavior, language, and speech outcomes for young children with CCN for pediatricians and other medical and rehabilitation professionals. Future research directions to maximize the communication development of young children with CCN are also discussed.

<p><p>from the <a href=”Journal” _mce_href=””><em>Journal”>”><em>Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine</em></a></p>

Communication vulnerable patients in the pediatric ICU: Enhancing care through augmentative and alternative communication

Children in pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) may experience a broad range of motor, sensory, cognitive, and linguistic difficulties that make it difficult for them to communicate effectively. Being unable to communicate is emotionally frightening for children and can lead to an increase in sentinel events, medical errors and extended lengths of stay. Implementation of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools and strategies can address the communication needs of children in the PICU by enabling them to communicate their wants, needs and feelings to healthcare providers and family members and participate in their own care more productively.<p><p>from the <a href=”Journal” _mce_href=””><em>Journal”>”><em>Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine</em></a></p>

Using voice recognition software to treat dysgraphia in a patient with conduction aphasia

Conclusions: The potential benefits of AAC devices may change throughout the course of recovery from aphasia. New technologies may facilitate gains in communication in individuals with aphasia throughout their lifespan. This study demonstrated that intensive training in the use of voice recognition software can enhance functional writing in an individual with chronic aphasia. Although marked progress in written expression was achieved, transfer of skills for use on the Internet was limited. Clinical management should include assessment of various assistive technologies across different modalities of communication for people at different stages of recovery from aphasia.

from Aphasiology

A Verbal Cuing Device for Persons With Brain Injury: Development and Proof-of-Concept Case Study

The ability to successfully return to driving following neurologic injury is one of the most critical factors in re-establishing independence and the most notable safety concern of health providers and family members. This assistive technology study describes the development of a verbal cuing device called the Electronic Driving Coach used as an adjunct to driver training following brain injury. We review literature on rates of return to driving following brain injury and factors associated with predicting return to driving and driving ability. We then address critical factors to return to driving addressed by this emerging technology and describe how the verbal cuing device called the Electronic Driving Coach was designed. We provide a proof-of-concept case study that evaluates use of the verbal cuing device with a person who has experienced a traumatic brain injury. Last, we discuss practical considerations for developing and using assistive driving devices in persons with cognitive impairments, including drivers who have experienced a stroke.

from Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation

An overview of intervention options for promoting adaptive behavior of persons with acquired brain injury and minimally conscious state

This paper presents an overview of the studies directed at helping post-coma persons with minimally conscious state improve their adaptive behavior. Twenty-one studies were identified for the 2000–2010 period (i.e., a period in which an intense debate has occurred about diagnostic, rehabilitative, prognostic, and ethical issues concerning people with severe acquired brain injury). Three of the 21 studies involved transcortical magnetic or deep brain stimulation. Six studies focused on the provision of multisensory stimulation or music therapy. The remaining 12 studies involved the use of response-related (contingent) stimulation and assistive technology. The outcomes of the studies, which were generally reported as positive, were discussed in terms of (a) the size (quantitative relevance) of the changes obtained, (b) the credibility/reliability of the changes, in light of the methodological conditions of the studies, and (c) the level of engagement and interaction involvement of the participants. Relevant issues for future research were also examined.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

Perception of speech with envelope enhancement in individuals with auditory neuropathy and simulated loss of temporal modulation processing

Individuals with auditory neuropathy (AN) often suffer from temporal processing deficits causing speech perception difficulties. In the present study an envelope enhancement scheme that incorporated envelope expansion was used to reduce the effects of temporal deficits. The study involved two experiments. In the first experiment, to simulate the effects of reduced temporal resolution, temporally smeared speech stimuli were presented to listeners with normal hearing. The results revealed that temporal smearing of the speech signal reduced identification scores. With the envelope enhancement of the speech signal prior to being temporally smeared, identification scores improved significantly compared to temporally smeared condition. The second experiment assessed speech perception in twelve individuals with AN, using unprocessed and envelope-enhanced speech signals. The results revealed improvement in speech identification scores for the majority of individuals with AN when the envelope of the speech signal was enhanced. However, envelope enhancement was not able to improve speech identification scores for individuals with AN who had very poor unprocessed speech scores. Overall, the results of the present study suggest that applying envelope enhancement strategies in hearing aids might provide some benefits to many individuals with AN.

from the International Journal of Audiology

Multiple benefits of personal FM system use by children with auditory processing disorder (APD)

Children with auditory processing disorders (APD) were fitted with Phonak EduLink FM devices for home and classroom use. Baseline measures of the children with APD, prior to FM use, documented significantly lower speech-perception scores, evidence of decreased academic performance, and psychosocial problems in comparison to an age- and gender-matched control group. Repeated measures during the school year demonstrated speech-perception improvement in noisy classroom environments as well as significant academic and psychosocial benefits. Compared with the control group, the children with APD showed greater speech-perception advantage with FM technology. Notably, after prolonged FM use, even unaided (no FM device) speech-perception performance was improved in the children with APD, suggesting the possibility of fundamentally enhanced auditory system function.

from the International Journal of Audiology

AAC technologies for young children with complex communication needs: State of the science and future research directions

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technologies offer the potential to provide children who have complex communication needs with access to the magic and power of communication. This paper is intended to (a) summarize the research related to AAC technologies for young children who have complex communication needs; and (b) define priorities for future research to improve AAC technologies and interventions for children with complex communication needs. With the realization of improved AAC technologies, young children with complex communication needs will have better tools to maximize their development of communication, language, and literacy skills, and attain their full potential.

from AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students’ Memory of Lectures with Speech-to-Text and Interpreting/Note Taking Services

In one investigation with 48 deaf and hard-of-hearing (hh) high school students and a second investigation with 48 deaf/hh college students, all viewed one lecture with an interpreter and one with the C-Print® speech-to-text support service. High school students retained more lecture information when they viewed speech-to-text support, compared to interpreter support, and when they studied note taker notes or a hard copy of the text after viewing the lecture, compared to no opportunity to study. For college students, however, there was no difference between retention with these two kinds of support or with study of notes, compared to no study. For the college investigation, there was a three-way interaction due to markedly better performance on a multiple-choice than on a sentence-completion test when students viewed an interpreter and did not study notes. This result may have reflected difficulty in comprehending unfamiliar terms. Reading proficiency was also related to retention.

p>from the Journal of Special Education

“Reach for the Stars”: Five Principles for the Next 25 Years of AAC

from AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Basing our work on the published writings of individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and their family members, we offer five principles to guide AAC assessment, intervention, research, and development: (a) The time for AAC is now; (b) One is never enough; (c) My AAC must fit my life; (d) AAC must support full participation in all aspects of 21st century life; and (e) Nothing about me without me. These five principles are individually important, but also interconnected, and are meant to provide clear goals for the field of AAC as we work towards the achievement of communication and participation for all.