Through funding support provided by Telstra Australia we have been undertaking research into the efficacy of mainstream devices such as iPads as assistive technologies over the last few months. The aim of the research is to provide empirical evidence of the impact of the use of such mainstream technologies on the attainment of the participation goals of 10 adults with varying physical disabilities and communication needs.
The methodology employed has involved a mixed-methods approach incorporating: 1) evaluation of the participants’ use of the devices over a 12 month period (such as frequency of use, their choice of software applications and their interactions with others using the devices); 2) pre and post intervention measurements using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measurement (COPM) instrument designed to detect changes in self-perceived occupational performance over time (Law et al, 2000) and goal attainment scaling (Kiresuk, Smith & Cardillo, 1994) in which each participant determines their own goals for the use of the iPads; and 3) analysis of social interactions facilitated through the use of the iPads as AAC devices using the Circle of Communication Partners Paradigm (Blackstone & Hunt Berg, 2003).
We presented interim findings to Department of Communities and Social Inclusion therapists on the 13th December and will be presenting the findings at the AGOSCI conference in May 2013.
The study contributes to the growing evidence-base exploring the potential of mainstream mobile devices such as iPads as assistive technologies and identifies both the benefits and challenges in adapting these technologies for use by people with physical disabilities and complex communication needs.