Technology and Differently Abled People


This book is meant for those who are interested in the quality of life for people with mental retardation and how their situation can be changed. It is for those who have a general interest in the subject as well as those who are professionally involved, be it educationally, psychologically or socially. No previous technological knowledge is necessary.

The manuscript has grown out of the work done at CERTEC, the Centre of Rehabilitation Engineering at Lund's Institute of Technology. It is written in the first person singular by two different people. The "I" in the first three chapters is Arne Svensk while the "I" in the fourth chapter is Bodil Jönsson. Both of us, though, stand for the contents of the whole book.

The backgrounds of the authors differ. Arne Svensk has worked with mentally retarded people in Lund, Sweden for twenty years. The last ten years he was the director of different types of smaller, residential facilities for the retarded. He was, however, educated to be an engineer. Bodil Jönsson is a physicist. She established CERTEC and currently directs its operations.

The book not only gives many good examples of technical applications for people with intellectual disabilities, but uses these examples to illustrate how technology should be developed for this population. It goes on to show how technology can be a support for care personnel in difficult aspects of their job. "The Svarne Expert System" chapter describes how technology can assist staff in better handling violent situations. Arne Svensk's intimate knowledge of the subject can, through the creation of "Svarne", be expressed in a way that makes it available to others.

The last chapter is about "Isaac", a personal electronic assistant for people with cognitive dysfunction. It is being developed at CERTEC by Bodil Jönsson in collaboration with Lars Philipson, professor in computer technology and director of the technological development phase of "Isaac". It uses far more advanced technology than can be found in today's multinational, corporate executive's attaché case. Still the idea of a personal electronic assistant for the retarded is no more far-fetched than giving electric wheelchairs to people with physical disabilities. Lars Philipson has never been part of a project in which the benefits from using the latest computer technology have been so obvious as they are in the "Isaac" project.

Thanks to all of you who helped us with constructive conversations and ideas. A special thanks goes out to all the engineering students at Lund's Institute of Technology who have in courses at CERTEC developed many of the aids that you will see examples of throughout the book.

Arne Svensk and Bodil Jönsson

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Natural Intelligence
3. Artificial Intelligence
4. Isaac