2002 Conference Proceedings

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SELECTING ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR MEMORY AND ORGANIZATION TASKS:
A CD-ROM AND WEB-BASED PROGRAM

Jo Fleming, PhD and Bernard Fleming, PhD
ORCCA Technology, Inc.
444 East Main Street, Suite 101
Lexington, Kentucky 40507
orcca@orcca.com

ABSTRACT

This project is developing and evaluating an interactive multimedia software program to provide a decision support system for the selection and implementation of assistive technology for memory and organization tasks. Separate versions will be created for children/youth and adults. The program incorporates a questioning procedure, using responses from the user in the decision-making process to match appropriate products with the characteristics of the task, the environment, and the user. Once a list of potentially useful products is generated, the user will be able to interact with the products in a simulated environment to determine the appropriateness of each. The program will provide specific strategies for implementation of the selected solution. Finally, access to a wide variety of Internet-based resources will be provided, including device updates, information on new technologies and strategies, and user feedback.

BACKGROUND

Problems with memory and organization due to a disability or a medical condition affect approximately 10-15% of the total population of the United States. In addition, as Americans are living to an older age, problems with memory and organization are increasing in that population as a factor of the aging process. Problems with memory and organization can range from minor inconvenience to life-threatening situations. Assistive technology can provide one means of assistance for persons experiencing difficulty with memory and organization tasks. It is frequently recommended as a means of providing external cues and prompts for individuals who have difficulty remembering what they need to do (Barkley, 1997; Hallowell & Ratey, 1994; Raskind, 1993; Riviere, 1996; and Kim, Burke, Dowds, Boone, & Park, 2000). There are also individual case studies and small group studies demonstrating the effectiveness of assistive technology for memory and organization (Cole, 1994; Golan, 1997; Hersh & Treadgold, 1994; McDaniel & Einstein, 1992; and Wilkomm & LoPresti, 1997). Unfortunately, there does not exist an up-to-date single-source compilation of assistive technology products specifically designed for memory and organization. Even more significant, there does not exist a systematic strategy for making decisions about appropriate assistive technology solutions. The specific aim of the project is to address these problems by designing, developing and evaluating an interactive multimedia software program to provide a decision support system for the selection and implementation of assistive technology for memory and organization – The Assistive Technology Selection Assistant: Memory and Organization.

The program is intended for use by four main audiences: 1) persons who are experiencing problems with memory and organization and who are seeking assistance with the selection of assistive technology solutions; 2) family members and caregivers of persons with memory and organization problems; 3) professionals who work with persons who exhibit problems with memory and organization; and 4) students in university programs; and personnel in social, government and medical facilities who are preparing to work with people who are experiencing problems with memory and organization.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Assistive Technology Selection Assistant: Memory and Organization is being designed as an interactive multimedia software program that incorporates a questioning procedure which employs responses from the user to guide the decision-making process to match appropriate assistive technology products with the characteristics of the task, the environment and the user. Once a list of potentially useful products is generated, the user will be able to interact with the products in a simulated environment to determine the appropriateness of each. Finally, the program will provide specific strategies for implementation of the selected device. Innovative features of the program include: a) the use of a decision support system for matching technology and the user; b) integration of agent technology as a means to facilitate communication between the user and the program; c) incorporation of 3-dimensional models (Fleming & Fleming, 1999; Fleming, et al., 2000) and simulation activities to assist the user in “trying out” the devices; and d) integration with the World Wide Web for additional information, continual updates, and interaction with other persons concerning implementation of assistive technology solutions. The final product will be commercially distributed using CD- or DVD-ROM technology with an Internet component.

The complete program will include assistive technology for the following categories: calendar management, activity and project management, contact management, medication management, housekeeping and safety concerns, remembering content, keeping track of belongings, and money management.

Since the user will interact with the program by answering a series of questions designed to assist in the selection of appropriate assistive technology, questions focus on: 1) requirements of tasks pertaining to organization and memory, 2) characteristics of persons who exhibit problems with memory and organization, 3) physical and operational features of assistive technology, and 4) environmental factors that may influence the use of assistive technology.

Figure 1: Program Flowchart

Program Flowchart

The questioning strategy component is incorporated into the complete program as shown in Figure 1. The user can access the information about assistive technology in three ways – through the questioning process (interview), through an independent search process (search), or through exploration of all technology options available in the program (explore). The program operates in the same way for all three access options after a single device is presented. For each device, the user will be given the choice: 1) to learn about the unique features of the device; 2) to view examples and uses of the device being used by age-matched peers involved in real situations; 3) to be presented with strategies for using the device; and 4) to interact with a simulation of the operation of the device. Figure 2 shows an example of a screen on which the user can inteact with some of the features of TimePAD device.

Figure 2: Example of a User Simulation Activity

Example of a User Simulation Activity

Features to enhance the accessibility of the program will include: use of simple language, audio narration for on-screen text, video description, captioned videos, and hot-keys for navigation control (Freed, 1999).

Table 1: Summary of Evaluation Activities

The program has a multilevel evaluation plan consisting of the following components:

  1. Validation of content outline and questioning procedures by panel of experts.
  2. Documentation used throughout development of prototype by development team.
  3. Focus groups review program during development.
  4. Focus groups review Alpha version of program.
  5. Field test of accuracy of prototype program in selecting appropriate technology based on established performance criteria
  6. Usability study of Beta version.
  7. User Evaluation of Satisfaction.

REFERENCES

Barkley, R. (1997). ADHD and the nature of self control. New York: Guilford Press.
Cole, E. (1994). Design and outcomes of computer-based cognitive prosthetics for brain injury: A field study of 3 subjects. Neurorehabilitation, 4(3).
Fleming, J.E. & Fleming, B.P. (1999). The Assistive Technology Exploration Center: The Prototype. [CD-ROM Computer Program]. Lexington, KY: ORCCA Technology, Inc.
Fleming, B.P., Fleming, J.E., Cunningham, R.P., & Edyburn, D. (2000). Interactive Multimedia Training for Assistive Technology Using Computer-Based Device Simulations and 3D Environments. RESNA 2000 Proceedings (submitted).
Freed, G. (1999). Recent Developments in Accessible Web-based Multimedia. CSUN Conference Proceedings – Technology and Persons with Disabilities.
Golam, A. (1997). Developmental disabilities and neuropage: Virtual superego partnering in the workplace. New York: UCP.
Hallowell, E., & Ratey, J. (1994). Driven to distraction. New York: Pantheon Books.
Hersh, N. & Treadgold, L. (1994). Rehabilitation of memory dysfunction by prosthetic memory & cueing. Neurorehabilitation, 4(3).
Kim, H., Burke, D., Dowds, M., Boone, K., & Park, G. (2000). Brain Injury, Feb; 14(2): 187-96.
McDaniel, M., & Einstein, G. (1992). Aging and prospective memory: Basic findings and practical applications. Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, 7, 87-103.
Raskind, M. (1993). Assistive technology and adults with learning disabilities: A blueprint for exploration and advancement. Learning Disability Quarterly, Summer,
Riviere, A. (1996). Assistive technology: Meeting the needs of adults with learning disabilities. Washington, D.C.: National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center.
Wilkomm,T., & LoPresti, E. (1997). Evaluation of an electronic aid for prospective memory tasks. RESNA 1997 Proceedings.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This project was made possible by grant number 1 R43 AG18676-01 from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging.

Kathleen McHale, M.Ed., is the expert consultant and force behind this project. She is the owner of Technology for Memory and Organization in Needham, MA, and has written the manual, A Resource Guide to Assistive Technology for Memory and Organization, 1999.


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