1999 Conference Proceedings

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Support Software for Persons With Cognitive Disabilities

Gunnar Fagerberg

Introduction

TASC (Telematics Applications Supporting Cognition) is a three-year research and development project funded by the European Union, the Telematics Applications Programme, Sector for Disabled and Elderly. The objective of TASC is to develop computer software to support decision-making and communication for persons with cognitive disabilities. The three specific target groups selected for this project are persons with developmental disability, brain injury and dementia.

The project is led and coordinated by The Swedish Handicap Institute. The partners are: Centre for Rehabilitation Engineering Research (CERTEC), Sweden; SINTEF Informatics, Norway; Cognitive Rehabilitation Unit Sunnaas Hospital (CRUSH), Norway; VTT Information Technology, Finland; Prosthetic Foundation, Finland: Danish Centre for Technical Aids for Rehabilitation and Education (DC), Denmark; Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults of Northern Ireland (MENCAP), UK; Interactive Multimedia Systems, Ireland; Advanced Medical Technology Ltd, UK and Queen Margaret College, Scotland.

Project achievements

Following an in-depth study of user needs and requirements, using real-life scenarios with real people, the TASC project has selected and focused on five core areas where many persons with cognitive disability experience difficulties and prioritise support:

After further specification, five software modules have been developed to give support in these core areas:

All five or only some of the modules function together as a system. The TASC system runs on standard computers to keep the costs down. The modules are implemented with Java components in an architecture that facilitates future development and extension of the system.

The user interfaces have been developed with flexibility in respect to the individual user. Information can be presented with text, pictures, symbols and sound. Personalised information such as photographs and voices can easily be introduced into the system.

The TASC system is being evaluated at five validation sites in five countries. At each site, primary and secondary users (carers) use the system in real-life situations and environments and provide feedback to the developers for further improvement and refinement of the system.

Potential benefits

With support from the TASC system, persons with cognitive disability can achieve:

The TASC system can reduce the need for help from others with daily activities and thus lead to:

User involvement

TASC has close co-operation with users and user representatives throughout the course of the project. A Consumer Board with representatives of three major European disability organizations, one for each of the target groups, was set up in the first year of the TASC project in order to provide a direct dialogue between organisations of persons with intellectual disabilities and the Management Board of the TASC project.

At each of the five validation sites, User Advisory Groups have been formed. The members are primary users, secondary users such as carers and relatives, and different professionals.

In the studies on user requirements and in the validation and demonstration activities, primary users have taken active part in the project work.

References

M. Lundman, H. Hammarlund and M. Granlund (1995) Mentek - New Technology for Persons with Mental Handicap. In Proceedings of the ECART 3 Conference. The National Secretariat for Rehabilitation, Lisbon, Portugal.

Fagerberg, G. (1997) Computer Applications Supporting Cognition. In Advancement of Assistive Technology. Proceedings of the 4th European Conference for the Advancement of Assistive Technology. Edited by G. Anogianakis, C. Bühler and M. Soede. IOS Press, Amsterdam.

Fagerberg, G. (1998) User Involvement in the TASC Project. In Improving the Quality of Life for the European Citizen. Technology for Inclusive Design and Equality. Edited by I. Placencia Porrero and E. Ballabio. IOS Press, Amsterdam.


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