Understanding assistive technology as a pre-requisite for choice and participation

Steel, Emily J. (2018) Understanding assistive technology as a pre-requisite for choice and participation. Journal of Occupational Science. ISSN 1442-7591


Assistive technology (AT) is an often-used intervention to enhance participation and occupational performance, but disparities in access to and outcomes from its use are common. An occupational perspective of being and becoming an AT user is missing from the discourse on the right to, and choice of, assistive technology, and policies guiding its provision. This study investigated the experiences of people operating outside of public AT programs in Australia, and their experiences of access to, choice of, and outcomes from AT. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) of interviews with two participants with extensive and diverse experiences of AT provision demonstrates how a person becomes an AT user over time. The emergent themes discussed are becoming an AT user, self-management by AT users, and the risks and responsibilities of choice without awareness or support. The findings illustrate that being an AT user is an occupation that involves ongoing learning and problem-solving as part of self-management, and support the notion that AT is a pre-requisite for participation and choice. AT users can only make and realise choices if facilitating conditions are present. These include the existence and awareness of options, support to explore and experience new products and skills, respect for preferences, and ongoing servicing responsibilities. Policies emphasising individual consumer choice discount the iterative processes, risks and responsibilities involved in AT provision and the importance of relationships. Policymakers require an understanding of what is involved in being and becoming an AT user, and how this precedes participation and choice for people with disability.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Accepted version embargoed until 1 March 2020 (12 months), in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Health and Wellbeing
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2019 01:35
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 00:19
Uncontrolled Keywords: occupational science; assistive technology; participation; choice; disability; self-management; policy; IPA; Qualitative research
Fields of Research : 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111703 Care for Disabled
16 Studies in Human Society > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
10 Technology > 1099 Other Technology > 109999 Technology not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920403 Disability and Functional Capacity
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/14427591.2018.1515648
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/34939

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