Poster Session
Issue Date: July 2015
Published Online: July 01, 2015
Updated: April 30, 2020
Impact of Demographic and Contextual Factors on a Computer-Training Program for People With Physical Disabilities
Author Affiliations
  • Temple University
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Article Information
Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Prevention and Intervention
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Impact of Demographic and Contextual Factors on a Computer-Training Program for People With Physical Disabilities
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911515066.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911515066.

Date Presented 4/16/2015

Significant gaps in research exist related to the efficacy of computer-training programs and factors that affect successful program completion for individuals with disabilities. This study retrospectively examines the roles that demographics and context have on such programs.

SIGNIFICANCE AND INNOVATION: Increasing numbers of people with disabilities are living in the community while returning to work and school, and it has become necessary to teach them how to use computer-related technology to succeed in the world. In the constantly evolving age of technology, occupational therapists (OTs) are called to evaluate and recommend adaptive technology (AT) for clients. However, in addition to prescribing technology, it is imperative that training occurs to avoid equipment abandonment.
Although research shows that computer technology helps people with disabilities access information as well as opens up many opportunities, there is minimal research to support the use and success of computer access and programs for people with disabilities. OTs perform holistic evaluations that take into consideration the person, environment, and occupation. These skills can make OTs instrumental in ensuring appropriate prescription of technology and developing training programs for people with disabilities. However, current clinical practice does not always include training in use of AT following provision of the equipment. It is essential to establish the efficacy of training in promoting continued use of technology and to advocate for these clients so they do not become isolated from the world around them.
METHOD: In this article, we report results from a large scale (N = 130) study that evaluated the question “What impact do demographic and contextual factors—including method of transportation, living situation, attendance rates, perception of goal achievement, transportation issues, continued computer use, and age—have on the efficacy of a goals-based, computer-training program for people with disabilities?” Data were collected through intake forms, follow-up interviews, and notes. Data were analyzed through regressions, distribution comparisons, and correlations with SPSS Version 21.0.
RESULTS: Participants ranging in age from 18 to 100 yr were recruited through snowball sampling from the Philadelphia tristate area. Results indicate that people with physical disabilities from diverse demographic and contextual backgrounds were able to complete a goals-based, computer-training program. Specific factors that affected the computer training program included method of transportation (p = .034), perception of goal achievement (p = .000), and attendance rates during the program (p = .001); in addition, a strong correlation was found between support for use and continued computer use, χ2(20, N = 129) = 100.47, p = .000. Unlike curriculum-based programs, this goals-based approach suggested increased perceptions of goal achievement, which, in turn, increased program satisfaction for participants.
CONCLUSION: This project opens for discussion the role that OTs can take in the development of computer-training programs for people with physical disabilities. OTs have expertise in understanding context and function as well as individuals and their interaction with the environment—including adapted technology to promote participation in daily life occupations. OTs are innovative and should work cohesively with technical and medical teams to bring the best fit equipment to clients to enable independent computer access.
Burton, M., Nieuwenhuijsen, E. R., & Epstein, M. J. (2008). Computer-related assistive technology: Satisfaction and experiences among users with disabilities. Assistive Technology: The Official Journal of RESNA, 20, 99–106.