RehabWire - Volume 6, Number 6, July 2004

RehabWire for July highlights research and reports focusing on computers and Internet technology to facilitate training, education, therapy, and independence for people with disabilities and the health professionals who serve them.

NIDRR Projects: Research in the New Millennium.

Tools to Help Web Developers Create more Universally Accessible Web Resources to People with Disabilities, University of Illinois (H133G030079) led by Jon Gunderson, PhD. Ellen Blasiotti, Project Officer.
Abstract: The most popular tools used by instructors are non-traditional web authoring tools like Microsoft Office Applications including Power Point, Excel and Word (a recent survey of instructors found 99% use Microsoft Office to create at least part of their web based instructional materials). This project creates web authoring tools that integrate the creation of accessible markup into the default authoring process of publishing Microsoft Office documents to the web. The HTML generated by the Office plug-ins not only improves accessibility to people with disabilities, but the content is more accessible to everyone by supporting World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) web standards and the interoperability the W3C recommendations provide.
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Model Distance-Learning Computer Training Program for Blind and Visually Impaired Individuals, Iowa Department for the Blind (H133A010104) led by Curtis Chong. Joyce Y. Caldwell, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project creates a model distance-learning program that delivers computer training to people who are blind or who have visual impairments. The purpose of this program is to increase IT educational opportunities and employability in the IT field. Project objectives include: (1) developing a model distance-learning computer training program that results in employment in the IT field; (2) developing 13 distance-learning computer training courses for individuals and VR professionals; (3) training and preparing 150 individuals for Microsoft Office certification and thus prepare them for entry-level IT positions; (4) training 50 consumers and VR professionals to provide computer training to job seekers who are blind, thus increasing future IT educational opportunities; and (5) disseminating training materials and research results to agencies serving individuals who are blind or who have visual impairments.
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Web-Based Telerehabilitation for Home Assessment and Monitoring, AnthroTronix, Inc. (H133S030037) led by Amy Brisben, PhD. Roslyn Edson, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project aims to enhance functionality and clinically evaluate CosmoWebTM, a remote therapy monitoring and teleassessment system. Children with disabilities perform therapeutic exercises while playing interactive software games featuring CosmoBotTM, an alien robot. CosmoWebTM consists of: (1) games; (2) Mission Control, a child-friendly computer interface system with customized and off-the-shelf therapy sensors, designed to interact with CosmoBotTM’s games; and (3) video, audio, and data transmission capabilities for telerehabilitation purposes.
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The New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center, Boston University Medical Center Hospital (H133N000024) led by Steve Williams, MD. William Peterson, Project Officer.
Abstract: The New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center (NERSCIC) develops research, education, and training projects to meet the needs of people with SCI. Additionally, The Model SCI System includes a pilot study on the effects of Internet access upon the health and social interactions of people with SCI and the development of a consumer-rated Internet guide based on input from individuals with SCI.
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closeup of laptop with fingers on the keys

PeerLink: Empowering Persons with Disabilities to Manage Their Own Information, University of Missouri (H133G020065) led by Laura Schopp, PhD. William V. Schutz, PhD, MSW, MPH, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project develops an information management system that allows users to share personal and local community resource information instantaneously and selectively, according to their own specifications. PeerLink creates information innovation in three major goal areas: (1) peer-to-peer inspired information transfer model; (2) knowledge management; and (3) graphic representation.
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Information Technology for Independence: Community-Based Research, University of Pittsburgh (H133A021916) led by Bambang Parmanto, PhD. Richard E. Wilson II, EdD, Project Officer.
Abstract: This project explores methods and technologies to mitigate barriers to computer and Internet use encountered by people with visual impairments. Evaluation of these barriers and identified accommodation strategies is the first research task of this project. The second research task is to develop and evaluate a new approach to Internet accessibility — a Gateway server. This Gateway delivers the contents of any Web site, whatever its level of accessibility, by transforming these contents into the most accessible format for any user, as Google does for personal digital assistant (PDA) users. Additionally, this project develops innovative metrics that promote a scientific approach to the analysis of Web accessibility and is conducting large-scale studies of webpage accessibility to measure progress in accessibility over time and to identify the impact(s) of new technologies.
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The Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education (GRADE) project, housed at the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, College of Architecture, has a free, ten-module tutorial for faculty and others on accessible distance education for students with disabilities. For more information, visit

New Research: Selections from REHABDATA

Salzer, M. S., Simiriglia, C., Solomon, A. (2003) Computer experience and training interests of psychosocial rehabilitation program participants. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 26(4), 417-421. NARIC Accession Number: J45524. Project Number: H133B70007.
Abstract: Survey study examined computer use and interest in computer training among people with psychiatric disabilities in order to justify development of a computer-training program. Seventy-one percent of the respondents reported that they had used a computer for a number of activities. Forty-one percent of the respondents indicated that they would be “very interested” in computer training and 16 percent were “quite interested”. Previous work experience, interest in a job involving computers, and a belief that training would be helpful were good predictors of interest in computer training.

Davies, D. K., Stock, S. E., Wehmeyer, M. L. (2003) Utilization of computer technology to facilitate money management by individuals with mental. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities 38(1), 106-112. NARIC Accession Number: J45574. Project Number: H133S020013.
Abstract: Describes the testing of a computer software system designed to improve the management of personal checking accounts for people with mental retardation. The prototype software provides the capacity to store and retrieve common payees, automatic posting of checks to the register, automatic balancing, and check printing. Results indicated that when using the software, the number of errors made in check writing, check recording, and checkbook balancing was significantly reduced compared to the traditional manual method.

Bradley, N., Poppen, W. (2003) Assistive technology, computers, and Internet may decrease sense of isolation for homebound elderly and disabled persons. Technology and Disability, 15(1), 19-25. NARIC Accession Number: J45811.
Abstract: Study evaluates the Computers for Homebound and Isolated Persons (CHIPs) program, which is an online community for individuals who are elderly and homebound. The participants got to know one another through the Internet, thereby making virtual friends with others living in similar circumstances. The program helped to build a sense of camaraderie among the participants and their caregivers.

photo of girl sitting at computer

Howland, C. (2003) Evaluation of a web site to educate women with physical disabilities about reproductive health maintenance. In Changing Concepts of Health and Disability Conference Proceedings, March 17-18, 2003; Washington, DC 56-61. NARIC Accession Number: O15043.
Abstract: Study evaluated the effectiveness of Internet-based instructional modules designed to improve the reproductive health care behaviors among women with physical disabilities. A web site was developed containing six instructional modules on reproductive health. Ninety-six percent of the participants who received the instructional modules and completed the 9-month follow-up survey rated the overall quality of the web site as excellent or good. Implications for future research, training, and policy strategies are discussed.

Andrew, J. D. (2003) A comprehensive survey of the status of distance education in rehabilitation counselor training at the master’s degree level. NARIC Accession Number: O15128. Project Number: H133F020004.
Abstract: Final report discusses study examining the extent to which distance education is available and is used in rehabilitation counseling master’s degree programs. Program coordinators and students were surveyed concerning distance education issues, program information, technical issues, Internet issues, and student demographics. Results indicated a wide variety of distance education programs are offered. On the basis of the student surveys, distance education programs are heavily engaged in meeting the needs of employed rehabilitation counseling personnel.

Silver-Pacuilla, H. V. (2003) Assistive technology and adult literacy: Bridging the gap for adults with learning disabilities: Final report. NARIC Accession Number: O15274. Project Number: H133F020025.
Abstract: Study examined the effects of supported access to computer-based assistive technology on adult education students with learning disabilities. Formal and informal assessments of fundamental literacy processes were collected before and after the intervention. Results indicate that students’ phonological awareness increased without direct instruction and their spelling scores increased slightly. Suggestions for future research and practice are presented.

Hopkins, J. (2003) Low-vision software and strategies. Diabetes Self-Management 55-56, 59-60, 62. NARIC Accession Number: J45058.
Abstract: Reviews computer software options available for people with low vision. Discussed are (1) built-in screen magnification utilities, available with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems; (2) Web browser features that allow the user to adjust the appearance of Web pages; (3) screen magnification software; and (4) text-to-speech software (screen readers), which read aloud the text in electronic documents. A list or resources for information about technology and software is included.

Chan, F., Pruett, S. R., Miller, S. M., Frain, M., Blalock, K. (2003) Internet resources for people with disabilities: Research directions. NARIC Accession Number: O15287.
Abstract: Paper presents an overview on development of the Internet and its applications for people with disabilities. Internet services relevant to improving the physical, social, psychological, and vocational well-being of people with disabilities are discussed. Barriers and issues that need to be research are identified.

Wood, S. R., Murillo, N., Bach-y-Rita, P., Leder, R. S., Marks, J. T., Page, S. (2003) Motivating, game-based stroke rehabilitation: A brief report. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation 10(2) 134-140. NARIC Accession Number: J46097.
Abstract: Study examined the feasibility and efficacy of a computer game-based therapy for patients with stroke-induced hemiparesis. The application induced more-affected limb use, which is believed to improve motor function. Before intervention, patients reported that they were not using their more-affected sides for activities of daily living. After intervention, patients were able to perform tasks with more force, speed, and efficiency than prior to the intervention. Findings support the efficacy and feasibility of the device.