I’ve got a mobile phone too! Hard and soft assistive technology customization and supportive call centres for people with disability

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 2017, 12 (4), pp. 341 - 351
Issue Date:
2017-05-19
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Purpose: The purpose of this article is to examine the use of a mobile technology platform, software customization and technical support services by people with disability. The disability experience is framed through the participants’ use of the technology, their social participation. Method: A qualitative and interpretive research design was employed using a three-stage process of observation and semi-structured interviews of people with disability, a significant other and their service provider. Transcripts were analyzed to examine the research questions through the theoretical framework of PHAATE–Policy, Human, Activity, Assistance and Technology and Environment. Results: The analysis revealed three emergent themes: 1. Engagement and activity; 2. Training, support and customization; and 3. Enablers, barriers and attitudes. Conclusions: The findings indicate that for the majority of users, the mobile technology increased the participants’ communication and social participation. However, this was not true for all members of the pilot with variations due to disability type, support needs and availability of support services. Most participants, significant others and service providers identified improvements in confidence, security, safety and independence of those involved. Yet, the actions and attitudes of some of the significant others and service providers acted as a constraint to the adoption of the technology. Implications for Rehabilitation Customized mobile technology can operate as assistive technology providing a distinct benefit in terms of promoting disability citizenship. Mobile technology used in conjunction with a supportive call centre can lead to improvements in confidence, safety and independence for people experiencing disability. Training and support are critical in increasing independent use of mobile technology for people with disability. The enjoyment, development of skills and empowerment gained through the use of mobile technology facilitate the social inclusion of people with disability.
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