Right fit, knowing user are keys to helpful assistive technology, Gresham lecturer says – UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff

Right fit, knowing user are keys to helpful assistive technology, Gresham lecturer says – UB Now: News and views for UB faculty and staff

  • Technology
  • May 20, 2022
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  • 4 minutes read


In any relationship with the client, a collaborative approach to understanding desires and needs is vital to long-term acceptance and success. The same is true when it comes to combining a person with a disability with assistive technology (TA), the right technology to improve their learning, work, and daily life. Knowing the user is the key to achieving this partnership.

Marcia J. Scherer, a rehabilitation psychologist and founding president of the Institute for Matching Person & Technology, talked about ways to gain user acceptance and benefit from the use of TA during a recent talk at at the UB. Scherer, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Rochester Medical Center, gave the 13th Glen E. Gresham Visiting Professorship in Rehabilitation Science lecture, entitled “Technology is the answer, but this is not the question.”

The answer, Scherer believes, lies in working as a vendor-user team focused on achieving user and vendor goals, user well-being, and vendor satisfaction.

“The number one key is to engage the consumer from the start,” Scherer said. “Addressing functional needs, but also personal factors and environmental factors, going beyond the physical architectural space built into the social space in which that person lives.”

Scherer stressed that utility is vital for users to value TA and not abandon it. He noted that the three main reasons why users leave TA are that no comprehensive assessment has been completed; the device did not meet user expectations for configuration, maintenance, or usability in all environments; and that actual use did not result in profits or gains.

While clinic directors, funding agencies, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, engineers, etc., emphasize the need to give users the means to carry out activities, “The user wants to be comfortable. and gain function, “Scherer said. “TA should result in functional gain and utility … as well as improved welfare benefits and improved quality of life through use.”

Assistive technology is now on the world stage for funding, impact and consideration for people with disabilities, Scherer said, thanks to a World Health Organization (WHO) resolution. make assistive technology a priority. In addition, organizations around the world that previously operated separately voted in 2014 to become chapters of a global alliance of assistive technology; the organization, GATE, is a WHO initiative and emphasizes well-being as well as function.

It is estimated that more than 1 billion people worldwide currently need one or more care products. While in the U.S. only 38.4% of working-age disabled adults are employed, the good news is that over the course of 10 years this ratio is rising in favor of those with a disability. Meeting their TA needs will be a component of their success, and there is now more global cooperation to remove barriers to getting the right TA for people who want it, Scherer said.

The Glen E. Gresham Visiting Professorship in Rehabilitation Science conference is held annually to honor the former UB professor and has nationally or internationally recognized authority in an area directly related to the science of rehabilitation. It is supported by an endowment made by the late Albert Rekate and his wife, Linda, to benefit students, faculty, and the community at large.



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