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The Handbook of Assistive Technology.

The authors' purpose is to present materials on this subject to the reader with the main objective to provoke the reader into realizing the great potential that assistive technology has in relationship to the improvement of quality of life for the disabled.

The unique aspect of this book places emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach on the practical application of assistive technology for children and young adults. By extension, the materials in this book can easily be transferred to the older adults. In keeping with the interdisciplinary approach, the senior authors solicited the expertise of an educational consultant, a speech-language pathologist, a physical therapist, and an occupational therapist to contribute chapters in their individual areas of expertise.

In chapter one the senior authors join together to give a generally detailed account of major issues and service delivery models associated with assistive technology. Strengths and weaknesses surrounding these models were addressed. Various funding issues were discussed to close the lead chapter. A broad ranging presentation is presented on computers, specifically microcomputers. In as basic, non-technical language as possible the reader is taken trough the various components of a computer operations system. Liberal use of figures and tables guides the readers through this presentation. Each individual who is disabled needs to be assessed with a variety of computer access methods. The author quite convincingly suggests that there must be an interface design which will adequately integrate computer components so users (persons with disabilities) can operate the system effectively and efficiently.

The physical therapist and the occupational therapist give a succinct but detailed chapter on positioning and power mobility. They address common problems which interfere with stable sitting and standing. Propitious use of figures and diagrams leads the reader through an optimal seating and mobility system for a client. Decisions regarding such issues are highlighted along with suggestions for selections of facilities and professionals with expertise in assistive technology.

Augmentative and alternative communication aids and devices are presented by the speech-language pathologist. Selective methods for evaluating these aids and devices were considered. Besides mechanical devices, the use of gestures, head nods, and the like as appropriate communication aids was also explored. Intensive training is absolutely necessary for individuals with communicative disorders in order to be able to communicate effectively with members of their community.

A chapter on toys (leisure) and controls (independence) was developed with the disabled's greater independence in mind. Controls were noted by the writer as devices which give the client access to the total environment. Careful assessment of individual needs across many specific needs was highlighted.

The last conceptual chapter discussed the issues related to the integration team. This concept engenders the idea of a "whole child" approach emphasizing a number of intellectual, physical, vocational, and psychosocial skills. Also emphasized was the preparation of team members, peer preparation, the physical environment, and development of total integrated plans.

The book concludes with three chapters. The first introduces both common hardware and software products with their specific names, manufacturer, and descriptions. Products were arranged into eight categories. The following chapter, the second in the trilogy, is a basic guide for selection of products listed in the previous chapter. Specific address and telephone information is given. These lists include vendors, organizations, publications, and databases. The third chapter in this group gives a rather extensive glossary of assistive technology terms which was not meant to be all-inclusive but was still very thorough.

Rehabilitation counselors and vocational evaluators, among other professionals, would serve their clients and themselves well to have this book readily available. At one's fingertips will be a plethora of information applicable to most severely disabled clients. The book is written clearly and is assembled in a most concise manner and is readily readable. It is a no-nonsense book and, at times, has the appearance of a manual. Indeed, it can be likened to one, a manual which will aid the rehabilitationist in using assistive technology wisely in an efficient and effective manner with the client.

Ronald Spitznagel Assistant Professor Dept. of Rehabilitation Counseling University of Florida
COPYRIGHT 1992 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Spitznagel, Ronald
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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