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Remote communication for people with disabilities: Support persons’ views on benefits, challenges, and suggestions for technology development

Journal article
Authors Margret Buchholz
Kristina Holmgren
Ulrika Ferm
Published in Technology and Disability
Volume 32
Issue 2
Pages 69-80
ISSN 1055-4181
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Pages 69-80
Language en
Keywords Augmentative and alternative communication, cognitive impairment, communication, computer access, information technology and telecommunications, universal design
Subject categories Telecommunications, Occupational Therapy


BACKGROUND: Being able to communicate through digital channels is a prerequisite for participation in contemporary society. People with communicative and cognitive disabilities (CCDs) face challenges in this area, thus often being excluded from participating fully in society. OBJECTIVE: This qualitative study focuses on aspects of technology that facilitate or impede remote communication in people with CCDs. METHODS: Support persons for people with CCDs (N= 21) participated in five focus groups to discuss this topic. RESULTS: Data analysis yielded two themes: using standard technology and using assistive technology. Each theme encompasses categories describing aspects and functions of technology that facilitated or impeded remote communication. The support persons felt that standard and assistive technology needed possibilities for personalization for ease and accessibility. There is a need for increased compatibility between assistive and standard technology and between platforms. Remote communication technology must be made more accessible and easier to use for both people with CCDs and those in their networks. CONCLUSIONS: The study provides an overview and illustrative examples of how technology can enhance or hinder remote communication. We offer suggestions on how technology can be developed to meet the specific needs of people with CCDs and simplify remote communication for them.

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