Assistive technology for Rett syndrome: a systematic review

Have you seen the 2019 systematic review covering assistive technology as an intervention for individuals with Rett syndrome? If not, read on for a summary of the research on assistive technology for Rett syndrome.

Assistive technology for Rett syndrome: a systematic review. Photo shows a young girl using a computer-based AAC system. An adult is alongside her, holding her hand.
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In-person training improves assistive technology outcomes

In a recent research study, people who received in-person training from an occupational therapist had significantly better outcomes with their computer assistive technology, as compared to people who used a home-study program or those who received no training at all. Read on for a summary of this 2019 study from France.

In-person training improves assistive technology outcomes. Two images: one showing an occupational therapist and a person with a spinal cord injury working together. The other shows a close-up of a person typing using a typing splint.
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Your Guide to 10+ One-hand Typing Options

Here’s a guide to currently available methods and devices for one-hand typing. If you need to type with one hand due to a limb difference, stroke, or other motor impairment, this guide will help you sort through your options for productive typing.

One-handed typing: What's available?  Pictures show 3 example options -- one-hand touch typing, tapping codes on touchscreen, and a chorded keyboard in the palm

This post focuses on options for people who need to type using the fingers of a single hand, possibly with a bit of help from the other hand but often completely solo. Depending on your specific needs, it might work well to use a standard physical keyboard with one hand, but you might want to consider various options such as one-handed techniques, alternative keyboard layouts, or novel methods of text input. The key is to make an informed choice to make sure your one-hand typing method truly meets your needs. In our last post, we described 12 considerations to think about when choosing a one-hand typing method. Here, we examine a variety of specific one-hand typing options that are available and see how they stack up on those considerations.

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Morse code for access: what do we know?

Morse code has been used in assistive technology since at least the 1970’s to support typing using one or two switches. This post summarizes what we know about typing performance for Morse code users with physical disabilities, and how it compares to other switch-based text entry methods.

The Morse code keyboard for the Gboard app, showing dot and dash keys.
Morse code can be an effective way to type using only one or two switches. It’s been around for decades as an assistive technology (AT) that can be used by people with high-level spinal cord injuries (often with a sip/puff switch), severe cerebral palsy, or other conditions that cause significant physical impairments.

This post was inspired by a question sent to the RESNA AT-FORUM listserv by Craig Wadsworth of the Illinois AT Program and Debra and Thomas King, long-time advocates of Morse code. They are trying to gather info from people who are using Morse or have helped someone use it, in order to build a firmer knowledge base about using Morse effectively.

Their question got me thinking about what we really know about the viability of Morse relative to other switch-based methods such as switch scanning.

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Highlights from the 2019 RESNA Conference

The RESNA/RehabWeek 2019 Conference featured 3 packed days of sharing among people in the assistive technology field. Here are a few highlights from my experiences there this year.

RehabWeek 2019 conference held in Toronto June 24-28
This year’s RESNA conference was part of RehabWeek 2019 , involving 6 parallel conferences on assistive technology, rehabilitation robotics, functional electrical stimulation, and other rehabilitation technologies. Held in Toronto, with the main program from June 25-27, RehabWeek had a great diversity of topics and people. Here are some highlights, based on my notes.

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Visualizing text entry data: which design do you prefer?

We’re working on some new ways to visualize the text entry data within AT-node, and we need your feedback! Take a look at some designs and let us know what you think.

Visualizing text entry data: your feedback needed
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AT-node: explore the data on typing with assistive technology

How fast can people with physical disabilities type when using different assistive technologies? Find out with our free AT-node for access website. Use the evidence to enhance your understanding.

I’ve mentioned our free AT-node website in other posts (like this one with a neat infographic), without really demonstrating what it is, so in this post, I want to give you a quick introduction to using the AT-node website.
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Better typing with keyboard assistive technology

Here’s another great example of how a simple change to a user’s computer setup can make a big difference, in this case using keyboard assistive technology. Read on for a summary of this 2018 case study from the University of Bordeaux.

Better typing with keyboard assistive technology. Photo on the left shows original keyboard, with user typing with left hand. Hand is partially curled up, with index and middle fingers extended. Photo on the right shows keyboard with assistive technology to enhance typing: keyguard, angled stand, and forearm rest.
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Typing with a tongue computer interface

It’s possible to type with your tongue using tiny sensors worn in the mouth. This post presents text entry rate results from a recent study, including two people with cervical spinal cord injuries.

Image shows the 18 sensors embedded into the device, which is worn like an orthodontic retainer. Also shows how letters are assigned to each sensor to allow for typing with the tongue.
For about 30 years, researchers have experimented with different ways of typing with your tongue. The Tongue Touch Keypad from the 1990’s used a tiny keyboard embedded in an orthodontic-style retainer. A newer approach continues to use the orthodontic-style retainer, but now embeds inductive sensors that are activated by moving a small magnet attached to the tongue. How well can you type with this sort of tongue computer interface? Read on for results from a recent study.

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