2004 Conference Proceedings

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Thomas J. Keating, Ph.D.
Phone: 541-342-3763
Email: tkeating@eugeneresearch.org

John M. Ames
Phone: 541-338-4458
Email: james@eugeneresearch.org

Eugene Research Institute
99 West 10th Avenue, Suite 325
Eugene, OR 97401
Website: http://www.eugeneresearch.org

This session demonstrates Picture Planner(tm), cognitively accessible personal activity planning software for individuals with cognitive disabilities and their assistants.

The most recently available data on computer accessibility from the Disability Statistics Center of the Office of Special Education Research and Services show that "Americans with disabilities are less than half as likely as their non-disabled counterparts to own a computer, and they are about one-quarter as likely to use the Internet." (Kaye, 2000, July p. 1). This much-discussed "digital divide" persists despite the development of many new devices to make computers more physically accessible, such as screen readers, mouse and keyboard alternatives, or specialized software to assist with reading or other skills. However, many persons whose disabilities are cognitive in nature, including elders, remain excluded from the benefits of information technology because: (a) commercial software is not readily accessible because of its complexity and dependence on the user's cognitive ability, and (b) there is a lack of specialized software targeting more competent performance of funct! ional daily living skills (Wehmeyer, 1999).

For the past five years our Institute has been involved in research and development of life skills software and curriculum systems that are accessible to individuals with cognitive disabilities Technology can provide needed support for seemingly routine demands such as keeping track of appointments, scheduling activities and completing household tasks. This kind of support can enhance personal competence and autonomy and promote a wider range of choices and less social isolation.

Most recently, we have completed development of a prototype personal activities management software application called Picture Planner(tm) (Keating, 2000), an overview which may be viewed at the following web address: http://www.eugeneresearch.org/picture_planner/index.html

Picture Planner(tm) is a versatile tool for engaging in the kind of daily and weekly self-scheduling activities recommended by Bambara and Koger (1996) in their guide to facilitating daily choice making. A computer-based approach for this purpose has the advantage of making more flexible and practical use of personal pictures as prompts (Lazarus, 1998; Schmit, Alper, Raschke, & Ryndak, 2000). In addition, the computer application has the ability to provide the individual with assistance with the more metacognitive aspects of activity management by giving systematic prompts to make choices about what the activity is, who is doing it, when it occurs, where it occurs, how to get there, what to bring, how much it costs, and what to wear. This session will demonstrate the application and the results of current field-testing, along with a prototype activity/task prompting version for use on handheld computers.

Task and activity prompting applications have received more attention recently, including approaches such as the Planning and Execution Assistant and Trainer (PEAT, 1997) Memory Aiding Prompting System (MAPS: Carmien, 2002), the Activity Compass (Kautz, 2002) and the Autominder, (Pollack, 2002). A strength of our approach to cognitive accessibiliy is that we are specifically targeting a feasible, completely graphically driven and easy to use life skills application suite for a range of users with cognitive disabiliies that can include individuals with developmental disabilities such as mental retardation and autism as well as those with traumatic brain injury and extending to elders with dementia or severe comprehension deficits and inability to read.

Bambara, L. M., & Koger, F. (1996). Opportunities for daily choice making. In D. Browder (Ed.), Innovations. Washington DC: American Association on Mental Retardation.

Carmien, S. (2002). MAPS: PDA scaffolding for independence for persons with cognitive impairments. Paper presented at the 2002 Human Computer Interaction Consortium (Pervasive Communication Access: Availability and its Consequences), Winter Park, Colorado, USA. [available at the following web address: http://www.cs.colorado.edu/~l3d/clever/assets/pdf/sc-hcih02.pd]

Kautz, H. (2002) Making sense of sensors. Paper presented at Conference on Computing, Cognition, and Caring for Future Elders: Emergent Intelligence in a Proactive Domain. Intel Corporation, Hillsboro, Oregon. August 8, 2002.

Kaye, H. S. (2000, July). Disability and the digital divide. In Disability Statistics Abstract (Nubmer 22). Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Keating, T., (2000, September) Picture planner: Personal activities scheduling software for individuals with significant cognitive disabilities. http://www.eugeneresearch.org/projects/aztec/index.html. Eugene, Oregon.

Lazarus, B. D. (1998). Say cheese! Using personal photographs as prompts. Teaching Exceptional Children, 30(6), 4-7.

Pollack, M. (2002). An intelligent cognitive orthotic system. Paper presented at Conference on Computing, Cognition, and Caring for Future Elders: Emergent Intelligence in a Proactive Domain. Intel Corporation, Hillsboro, Oregon. Aug. 8, 2002.

Schmit, J., Alper, S., Raschke, D., & Ryndak, D. (2000). Effects of using a photographic cueing package during routine school transitions with a child who has autism. Mental Retardation, 38(2), 131-137.

Wehmeyer, M. L. (1999). Assistive technology and students with mental retardation: Utilization and barriers. Journal of Special Education Technology, 14(1), 48-58.

This work supported in part by funding from the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (H133G010162) and the Office of Special Education Programs (H324M010064)

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