2000 Conference Proceedings

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The Mighty APHRODITE

Practice without Theory is misguided Theory with out Practice is sterile (Sartre)

APHRODITE

A Partnership to Harness Resource Opportunities & Distribute Information Technology Expertise

A Pilot National Service Delivery System
Gerald Craddock, Client Technical Services, Central Remedial Clinic, Dublin, Ireland

The project, APHRODITE was launched 2 years ago in Dublin Ireland; it is now coming to a successful conclusion. The project undertook to develop a national AT service delivery system, which focused on people with disabilities becoming the front line collaborators in the overall evaluation process. The European Commission funded the project under the Horizon initiative. The project was undertaken in collaboration with The Centres of Independent Living based in Ireland. The training element of the project was undertaken with University College Dublin (UCD) and the Centre on Disabilities at California State University (CSUN). The service that was developed during the 2-year pilot scheme will be mainstreamed in March 2000.

In Ireland, prior to the project APHRODITE, AT services were delivered by one service provider, the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), based in the capital city, Dublin. The CRC set-up the Client Technical Service (CTS) Department in 1987. Consumers from around the country had to travel to Dublin for evaluation. This was extremely unsatisfactory for a number of reasons.

Having a good local support network is now considered the key to the successful use of AT technology. Ester Dyson (1999) talks about funding for technology being broken down as follows: 1/3 on the Equipment, 1/3 on training, 1/3 on Support/Backup. From these figures it is obvious what a crucial role local support and training play in the overall provision of AT. In 1997 the CTS team submitted the APHRODITE project for funding to the European Commission Horizon initiative and were accepted. The project laid out the following objectives:

Technical Liaison Officers

Ten Technical Liaison Officers are now located throughout Ireland, in the counties of Tipperary, Mayo, Longford, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Galway and three in Dublin. All of the seven men and three women are wheelchair users. They either have their own transport or can use public transport. All TLOs have taken the CATA (Certificate in Assistive Technology Applications) and achieved their certificates. The calibre of the candidates is extremely high, which brings a lot of life experiences to the project. The TLOs are located in both urban and rural areas. As all TLOs are disabled themselves, they have first hand experience of the services available. They also provide a role model and "peer support", which has been a great contribution to the service.

The Evaluation Process

We investigated many evaluation processes and decided Marcia Scherer’s MPT (Matching People with Technology) tool was the most appropriate. MPT was consumer driven and client centred. This enabled us then to look at a uniform approach to the pre-evaluation, evaluation and post-evaluation phases in the overall service delivery process.

CTS have developed a loan library of AT equipment, which the TLOs can lend to people in their area to try out in their own environment. An APHRODITE talk-shop has been developed on the web, where the TLOs can communicate with each other and CTS for support and information. It can also be source of information and communication for consumers around the country. The TLOs have also held information days for both service providers and consumers in their local areas.

CATA (Certificate in Assistive Technology)

Representatives of CSUN served as a resource to the training component of APHRODITE. A 2-week curriculum, Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) developed at CSUN was localised by the CTS team in collaboration with CSUN. CATA was accredited by the University of Dublin (UCD). The College of Extended Learning at CSUN also granted a Certificate in Assistive Technology and 10 continuing education units (CEUs) to those who successfully complete the project. The CATA course has just completed its 2nd run. It has been extremely successful, with long waiting lists for each course. The response of those who have taken the course has been overwhelming positive and the waiting list grows for the next one. Our collaboration with CSUN and UCD has put AT on the Academic map in Ireland. CATA is now an integral part of UCD’s academic courses.

The Success of Mighty Aphrodite

The public profile of Client Technical Services has increased dramatically with Aphrodite. An increased confidence in our service has been noted, as it is perceived that the Central Remedial Clinic is improving its services to rural consumers by moving out of Dublin. The project has allowed us to form positive working relationships with other service providers around the country, who have offered their premises to us. Local community media have also shown an interest in the service and many of our TLO’s have taken part in radio and newspaper interviews.

At present the outreach service team consists of a co-ordinator with responsibility for overall management of outreach service, including evaluation, client satisfaction and administration of service. A trainer who liases with the TLO’s providing them with training in core skills including hardware and software, communication skills and presentation skills. 10 TLO’s who are providing an excellent local service and an assessment team made up of 3 staff from CTS.

The key to Aphrodite’s success has been A mark of Aphrodite’s success will be its launch as a mainstream service in March 2000

References

Dyson, Ester (1999) "Release 2.1: A Design for Living in the Digital Age" Broadway Books.

Scherer, Marcia (1993) "Living in a State of Stuck" Brookline Books isbn 1571290273

Scherer, Marcia (1991) "Matching Person & Technology" Marcia Scherer, 486 Lake Road, Webster, NY 14580

Porrero, Placencia (1998) "Improving the Quality of Life for the European Citizen" IOS Press, Washington DC


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