2000 Conference Proceedings

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Lewis E. Kraus
InfoUse, 2560 Ninth Street, Suite 216
Berkeley, CA 94710

InfoUse is conducting a two-year project entitled "Personal Assistance Services Training Via Multimedia" with funding through a Small Business Innovation Grant from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The genesis of this project was based on the discovery that the need for personal assistance services is rapidly expanding due to more people with disabilities living independently and the aging of the general population. One available pool of resources, home health care assistants, historically have been trained to provide medical services but not to address the needs of people with disabilities to live and manage their affairs independently. Other assistants tend to be untrained, low paid individuals who may not have an awareness of independent living philosophy or of the employee skills needed for the job (such as being on time). People with disabilities, on the other hand, have needed to learn how to effectively manage their assistants, work with finances and liability issues, and understanding the need for on-the-job safety for assistants.


The goal of the project is to develop and provide training materials via new media technologies to allow consumer choice in the design, management, and delivery of personal assistance services.

Phase I, completed in 1998, created and tested a prototype interactive multimedia CD-ROM. During that feasibility test period, InfoUse completed the objectives of:

  1. defining essential components of consumer-oriented packages for personal assistance training;
  2. identifying best approach(es) to training design and interface creation;
  3. developing computer logic and script;
  4. creating a demonstration module;
  5. soliciting consumer review and feedback;
  6. developing a specific plan for development of full product in Phase II.

The specific goal of this current Phase II, begun in August 1999, will be the design, development, and testing of CD-ROM, videotape and World Wide Web products containing training for consumers and personal assistants that can be distributed through publisher and distributor networks and the World Wide Web.

During phase II, we will:

  1. establish the framework for effective product development;
  2. produce products effective in conveying consumer and personal assistant information;
  3. evaluate the products; and
  4. develop market-ready products and a network of distribution.


The products will be available for distribution to consumers and personal assistants through the networks of organizations and agencies that provide training, products, and services to people with a disability and elderly consumers nationwide. Examples of these networks include service provider unions, professional service organizations, community colleges, nursing associations, attendant care registries, and national/state/local programs like the Public Authority system in California and Medicaid programs in other states.

These products will have the following features and benefits:




The project uses several different resources during the project. A team of advisors who are knowledgeable about specific content areas are referred to whenever issues pertaining to their knowledge area arise. Consultants in disability and personal assistance from the professional, personal, and systemic points of view assist the project in the design of content and the overall approach. The Marin Center for Independent Living and the San Francisco Public Authority will make the materials available to personal assistants and people with disabilities. An evaluation will review the success of personal assistant/consumer matches at the two sites before and after use of the materials.


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