2001 Conference Proceedings

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Marcia J. Scherer, Ph.D., MPH
Institute for Matching Person & Technology, Inc.
486 Lake Road
Webster, New York 14580
716-671-3461 (phone)

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) co-sponsored a survey on assistive technology devices as part of the National Health Interview Survey of 1990. The survey shows that in 1990 more than 13.1 million Americans, about 5.3 percent of the population, were using assistive technology devices. More people use assistive technology devices for mobility (6.4 million) than any other general type of AT: 4.4 million use a cane or walking stick, the single most used assistive technology devices. Other prevalent assistive technologies are, in order, walkers (1.7 million), wheelchairs (1.4 million), and back braces (1.2 million).

In spite of the fact that provision of assistive technology (AT) to people with disabilities is encouraged in a succession of U.S. statutes and there are federal mandates for comprehensive, consumer-responsive AT and technology-related services, obtaining such devices and services remains an arduous task for both the individual and the professional. The match of person and technology requires attention to aspects of the environments in which the AT will be used, the needs and preferences of the user, and the functions and features of the technology. If the match is not a quality one from the standpoint of the consumer, the AT may not be used, or will not be used optimally. There is a need for improved interaction between the individuals delivering the services and the individuals receiving the services because studies and reports show a high level of dissatisfaction and nonuse of technology by consumers (e.g. Scherer & Galvin, 1996).

An assessment process exists which has been effective in addressing and organizing the many influences which impact on the use of assistive technology: the Matching Person & Technology (MPT) Model and accompanying assessment instruments (Scherer 1993). The model/theory addresses three primary areas to assess as follows: (a) determination of the milieu/ environment factors influencing use, (b) identification of the consumer's needs and preferences, and (c) description of the functions and features of the most desirable and appropriate technology. To operationalize the model and theory, an assessment process consisting of several instruments has been developed (Scherer, 1998a).

The Matching Person and Technology (MPT) process is one which gathers information from a variety of sources through a set of instruments; it has been validated for use by persons with disabilities (ages 15 and up) (Scherer 1998b). Results of its use have resulted in a high satisfaction of the selection of ?useable? technology; options that match not only the individual?s strengths and participatory needs, but also look at his/her preferences and temperament. This information is then balanced with the characteristics of the environment that the technology will be used in (activity level, caretakers and professionals technology comfort level, etc.) along with the features and functions of the technology itself. This is a practical and research tool which identifies barriers to assistive technology use for a particular individual.

A research project was designed to develop prototypes of (a) a series of interpretive guidelines for implementing a consumer-directed and cost-effective process for matching person and AT and (b) an interactive training program designed to address the AT educational needs of rehabilitation professionals. The methodology involved (a) recruitment of professional and consumer users of the existing Matching Person and Technology (MPT) assessment process; (b) obtaining professional and consumer feedback on the process of completing the MPT instruments, (c) the development of prototype AT user profiles, computerized interpretive guidelines, and the content for an interactive training program for matching person and technology, and (d) an assessment of the influence of reimbursement (payor and/or insurance) on the designation of the AT prescribed or ordered for each consumer. At the conclusion of the project, prototype versions of MPT interpretive guidelines and the content for an interactive training program were developed and are ready for refinement and validation.


Scherer, M.J. & Galvin, J.C. (1996). An outcomes perspective of quality pathways to the most appropriate technology. In J.C. Galvin & M.J. Scherer (Eds.), Evaluating, Selecting and Using Appropriate Assistive Technology (pp. 1-26). Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc.

Scherer, M.J. (1998a). The Matching Person & Technology (MPT) Model Manual. Webster, NY. (First edition published in 1991).

Scherer, M.J. (1998b). The impact of assistive technology on the lives of people with disabilities. In D.B. Gray, L.A. Quatrano & M.L. Lieberman (Eds.), Designing and Using Assistive Technology: The Human Perspective (pp. 99-115). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Scherer, M. J. (1993). Living in the State of Stuck: How Technology Impacts the Lives of People with Disabilities. Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books. (Third Edition published in 2000).


This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, through grant number HD38220 to The Institute for Matching Person & Technology, Inc.

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