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Assistive technology effects on the employment outcomes for people with cognitive disabilities: A systematic review

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This systematic review examines the effects of assistive technology (AT) use on employment outcomes for people with cognitive disabilities (CD). AT is a necessary tool for gaining and maintaining skills for people with CD. Research suggests that AT can assist this population in performing tasks with greater ease and independence. A literature search was conducted to examine the evidence supporting AT use in the workforce. Search criteria included: subjects with CD, use of an AT tool or device and participation in a vocational training program or active employment. The search results yielded nine articles focused on AT interventions used in vocational settings for people with CD. AT interventions demonstrated positive outcomes on job performance. Positive outcomes were measured as a higher rate of accuracy and task completion, increased independence and generalization of skills. We found a trend in the literature over the past 25-30 years, moving from low- to high-tech visual and auditory cuing systems. Future research should focus on producing evidence to support the use of AT tools for this population, and provide guidelines for incorporating them in vocational training programs in schools and community settings.
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REVIEW
Assistive technology effects on the employment outcomes for people
with cognitive disabilities: a systematic review
ANGELA L. SAUER, ANDRA PARKS & PATRICIA C. HEYN
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical
Campus, Denver, Colorado 80203, USA
Accepted February 2010
Abstract
Purpose. This systematic review examines the effects of assistive technology (AT) use on employment outcomes for people
with cognitive disabilities (CD). AT is a necessary tool for gaining and maintaining skills for people with CD. Research
suggests that AT can assist this population in performing tasks with greater ease and independence.
Method. A literature search was conducted to examine the evidence supporting AT use in the workforce. Search criteria
included: subjects with CD, use of an AT tool or device and participation in a vocational training program or active
employment. The search results yielded nine articles focused on AT interventions used in vocational settings for people
with CD.
Results. AT interventions demonstrated positive outcomes on job performance. Positive outcomes were measured as a
higher rate of accuracy and task completion, increased independence and generalization of skills. We found a trend in the
literature over the past 25–30 years, moving from low- to high-tech visual and auditory cuing systems.
Conclusion. Future research should focus on producing evidence to support the use of AT tools for this population, and
provide guidelines for incorporating them in vocational training programs in schools and community settings.
Keywords: Employment, vocational, assistive technology, transition planning, cognitive disabilities, developmental disabilities,
job performance
Introduction
Background
In 1975, congress passed Public Law 94–142 [1], the
Education of All Handicapped Children Act. Prior to
this law, individuals with cognitive disabilities (CD)
were excluded from public education. As this
population has become integrated into school and
work programs, research has demonstrated that they
are capable of learning to perform many jobs in the
community [2]. Significant research has been de-
voted to training for improved accuracy and inde-
pendence [2]. Professionals working with this
population should be aware of the research on
effective vocational training practices in preparation
for future employment placements or supports [3].
Assistive Technology (AT) has the potential to
assist people with CD in performing a variety of
tasks accurately and independently [4,5]. Research
supports that this population requires assistance
and training to increase job skills and employability
[6], as well as AT to promote success in the
workforce [7]. However, this research is limited and
demonstrates the need for further empirical evi-
dence [8].
AT tools and devices are defined as ‘any item,
piece of equipment or product system, whether
acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or
customized, that is used to increase, maintain or
improve functional capabilities of a child with a
disability’ [9]. The cueing systems in the reviewed
studies match the above definition and are consid-
ered AT for the purpose of this systematic review.
Correspondence: Patricia Cristine Heyn, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Research Coordinator, Assistive
Technology Partners (ATP), School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, 601 East 18th Ave., Suite 130, Mail Stop C230,
Denver, Colorado 80203. Tel: þ1-303-315-1293. Fax: þ1-303-837-1208. E-mail: patricia.heyn@ucdenver.edu
The first two authors contributed equally to this manuscript.
Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 2010; Early Online, 1–15
ISSN 1748-3107 print/ISSN 1748-3115 online ª2010 Informa UK Ltd.
DOI: 10.3109/17483101003746360
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Purpose
The purpose of this systematic review is to examine
the use of AT by individuals with CD in the work
place. We ask two primary research questions. First,
what are the employment outcomes of adults with
CD who use AT in the workplace? Second, which
AT interventions are documented to have a positive
impact on employment outcomes in this population?
These primary inquiries lead to two secondary
research questions. Owing to AT interventions on
the job, is this population more successful or
employable? If so, what are the reported indicators
of success on the job? A search for indicators of
success included: accuracy, independence, higher
pay, greater reports of job stability or reports of
greater job satisfaction by employees or employers
due to the use of AT on the job.
Therefore, the aims of this study were: (1) To
systematically review and describe the effects of AT
use on the employment outcomes for individuals
with CD, (2) To evaluate trends of current AT
interventions and the strength of the outcomes to
determine future implications in vocational training
and (3) To provide recommendations for AT
practices and future research.
Rationale
Based on the authors’ past clinical and teaching
experience with individuals with CD, a dispropor-
tionate amount of AT tools and devices were
available, compared to the amount of evidenced-
based interventions currently documented. The AT
marketplace is flooded with products and vendors. A
search on Google for AT vendors yielded 170,000
entries [10]. Owing to the lack of research with this
population in general, as well as within the workforce
[11], it is difficult for professionals in this field to
determine how many of these products are based on
empirical research versus marketing.
We were interested in exploring this topic in order
to improve our AT practices in school settings based
on current research findings. We hope that better AT
practice in the school settings will improve this
population’s performance in the workforce.
Method
Literature search
To begin our literature search we had three key
terms: (1) cognitive disability, (2) AT and (3)
employment. We expanded these key terms (see
Table I), and completed our initial search using
the following electronic databases (all years in-
cluded):
.ERIC
.CINHAL
.PUBMED
.Web of Science
Additional searches were completed after reviewing
the references from the articles obtained from the above
databases. See Figure 1 for details of search methods.
Study selection
The two authors reviewed and summarized the
selected studies. The findings and results of each
study were examined and discussed to determine
whether they should be included in the systematic
review. In the event of uncertainty, both authors
assessed the study in question to determine eligibility.
Nine studies were included in the systematic review.
SeeFigure1foracompletelistofinclusionand
exclusion criteria. As stated within the inclusion
criteria, we included articles with all levels of evidence.
The Cochrane Collaboration Hierarchy of Evi-
dence [12] was used to assign a level of evidence to
each study. A description of this grading scale can be
seen in Table II.
Data extraction
Study characteristics from each article were extracted
and summarized in Table II, which provides an
overview of each study. More detailed information
can be located in Table IV. This will provide
numerical data and a synopsis of results for each study.
Results
The selected nine studies generated a total sample
size of 358 subjects, with 154 using AT. Of the 154
subjects, 40 were part of quasi-experimental studies.
The remaining 114 subjects took part in a survey in
which they indicated a self-reported ‘mental limita-
tion’ and used AT as a workplace accommodation
Table I. Search terms.
Cognitive disability: cognition, cognitive disabilities,
developmental disabilities, mental retardation, impaired IQ,
Down syndrome and autism.
Assistive technology: assistive technology, technology, devices
and assistive technology devices.
Employment: employment, jobs, sheltered workshops,
supported employment, vocation and vocational training.
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[13]. As summarized in Table III, this study showed
mixed results compared to the other studies. These
results were determined to be ‘mixed’, as only 36%
of survey respondents indicated the use of an AT
tool. The majority of respondents indicated that they
did not use any accommodations and did not report
their ‘mental limitations’ to their employers.
Study characteristics for the nine articles are
summarized in Table III, and the success indicators
are detailed in Table IV. Overall, the results of AT
use are positive for helping our selected population
become more successful on vocational tasks. 83% of
articles studied accuracy, 63% of articles studied
independence and 38% studied generalization.
The authors initially anticipated finding informa-
tion on higher pay, employer satisfaction and
employee satisfaction with the use of AT, but that
was reported in 0%, 38% and 38% of the articles,
respectively. See Table V for comprehensive infor-
mation on interventions outcomes and results.
Information about improvement in the areas of
accuracy, independence and generalization can be
found on Table IV. The authors noted no significant
difference in the levels of accuracy and independence
between low- and high-tech devices. However,
articles that were comparing the use of low- and
high-tech AT indicated that subjects completed job
tasks up to 50% faster using the high-tech devices.
Discussion
Research question #1
This systematic review investigated the employment
outcomes of adults with CD who use AT in the
workplace. As documented in Table IV, all studies
Figure 1. Search method.
Table II. CRD hierarchy of evidence.
Level Description
1 Experimental studies (i.e., RCT with concealed
allocation)
2 Quasi-experimental studies (i.e., studies without
randomization)
3a Controlled observational studies
3b Case–control studies
4 Observational studies without control groups
5 Expert opinion based on theory, laboratory research
or consensus
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Table III. Study characteristics.
Reference
Level of
evidence
Number of
subjects,
n¼total
Number of
subjects used
AT, n¼total
Sex:
F¼female;
M¼male
Ages,
r¼range;
m¼mean
Type/severity of
disability Type of AT Type of employment Type of task Results Retrieval site
Connis [14] Level 2 n¼4n¼4F¼1 r: 21–24 – Mental retardation Picture cues (photographs)
were taped in the correct
sequence on a clearly
visible wall in the subjects
work area and were
combined with
self-management
procedure
Vocational Training
Program
– Dishroom work Positive Reference
searchM¼3 m: 22.8 –IQ: 35–50 – Washing pots
and pans
Wacker and Berg
(1983)
Level 2 n¼5n¼5F¼3
M¼2
r: 18–19
m: 18.6
– Moderate and
severely
Picture prompts (books) Work activity program – Black value assembly
(18 steps)
Positive Reference
search
retardation
– IQ between 30
and 38
– Circuit board
assembly (30 steps)
– Double red valve
assembly (43 steps)
– Packaging task
(41 steps)
Wacker et al. [15] Level 2 n¼3n¼3F¼1
M¼2
r: 13–19
m: NR
– Severe or profound – Picture prompts (book) School – Dust table Positive Reference
search
mental retardation – Clean window
– IQ less than 26 – Conduit-assembly
task
– Folding laundry
– Envelope stuffing
– Set-up board game
Steed and Lutzker
[16]
Level 3b n¼1n¼1F¼0 r: 40 Profound mental
retardation
and atypical
psychosis
Picture prompts
(photographs)
Local Senior Center
and Day Program
for adults with DD
– Setting table Positive Reference
searchM¼1m:40 – Vacuuming
– Dusting
– Dusting
– Emptying trash
Tabor et al. [17] Level 2 n¼5n¼5F¼1
M¼4
r: 16–18
m: 17.4
– Moderate mental
retardation
– IQ ranged from
40 to 43
– Auditory prompts
(delivered
via tape recorder and
headphones)
– Community-based
vocational instruction
(CBVI) site
– High School Vocational
Program
– Settings: church and
pet store
– Vacuum
– Dust
– Sweep
– Clean mirrors
– Straighten pew
– Straighten pew
– Assemble pet carrier
– Straighten cans
– Hang one strip
Positive Reference
search
(continued)
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Table III. (Continued).
Reference
Level of
evidence
Number of
subjects,
n¼total
Number of
subjects used
AT, n¼total
Sex:
F¼female;
M¼male
Ages,
r¼range;
m¼mean
Type/severity of
disability Type of AT Type of employment Type of task Results Retrieval site
Furniss and
Ward [2]
Level 2 n¼6n¼6F¼1
M¼5
r: 31–47
m: 38
– Cognitive disability
– Vineland percentile
scores 15–40
– Picture cues (drawings)
in a book
– Computer-aided support
system: palm-top
computer
– Prompt devices: audio
and vibrating
– Supervisor call unit (carried
by job coach or supervisor)
– Attend day center
– Participated in unpaid
work in a regular work
environment ½ day/week
– Assembly:
nut/bolt/washer
– Assembly: boxes
– Preparing clock
cars
– Assembly: aqualung
pillar valve
Positive CINHAL
Lancioni et al. [18] Level 2 n¼6n¼6F¼3
M¼3
r: 23–47
m: 37
– Severe developmental
disability
– Vineland age
equivalencies
from age 2–6.5
years on
daily living skills and
1–2.5 years on
socialization skills
– Palm-top computer (pictorial
instructions, prompting and
latency conditions)
– Auditory output device and
vibration for prompting
– Smiling faces were used
as reinforces
– Day activity centers – Cleaning (hall, meeting
room or living room,
toilet area) and
setting the table
– Food preparation
(pudding, soup,
cookies, fruit dessert)
Positive CINHAL and
PUBMED
Davies et al. [19] Level 2 n¼10 n¼10 F¼2
M¼8
r: 18–70
m: 41.9
– Mental retardation
– Intelligence testing
(WAIS-R):
Range: 39–72
mean ¼54.8
– ‘Visual Assistant’ on a
palm-top
computer with audio and
digital pictures
– Community-based
vocational support
program
– School district
community-based
program for student
with MR ages 18–21
– Pizza box assembly
– Software assembly task
Positive Reference
search
Williams et al.
[13]
Level IV n¼320 n¼114 NR r: 18–65þ
m: NR
Self-reported mental
limitation
– Talking clock
– Checklist of steps
– Reminder devices
– Computer
– Alarms
– Not delineated for
individuals with
self-reported mental
limitations compared
to other respondents
Mixed ERIC
Total Level n¼358 n¼154 *F¼30% r: 7–65 Positive ¼89% Databases ¼33%
1: 0 % *M ¼70% *m: 30.8 Mixed ¼11%
Negative ¼0%
Reference
Search ¼67%2: 78%
3: 11%
4: 11%
5: 0%
NR, not reported; F, female; M, Male; n ¼sum.
*Based on number reported.
AT effects on employment 5
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demonstrate a trend towards positive effects, includ-
ing increased accuracy, independence and general-
ization of skills.
Research question #2
AT interventions and the positive effects on employ-
ment outcomes were also considered. The articles
examined illustrated the use of cuing systems as an
effective training tool. The cuing systems utilized in
these studies explored many ways to deliver prompts,
including: task analysis illustrated on picture or
photo cue cards, verbal cues recorded onto a tape
player and computer-aided devices that combined a
variety of visual and auditory cues.
Research demonstrates that these types of cuing
systems are effective in teaching individuals with CD
in both school and vocational settings [14]. Connis
(1979) summarized the early research in the area of
cuing systems beginning with the use of picture cues
in academic settings for students with CD [15]. His
findings cited examples of the positive effects of
picture cues to teach vocational skills [20].
The number of studies using picture cues in
vocational settings increased and showed a trend
moving from low- to high-tech applications. Early
studies involved the use of line drawings or photos
either posted on the wall near work areas or presented
in book format. The complexity of these cues and
technology increased with later studies. Studies in the
1980s and 1990s introduced the delivery of auditory
cues via a portable tape player (i.e., Walkman). Tabor
et al. [17] stressed the superiority of this type of device
as it was widely used in the mainstream population
and therefore non-stigmatizing. They were also more
portable than picture cuing systems utilized in early
studies. Popular culture continued to dictate the next
and most current trend towards the use of hand-held,
computerized devices as Personal Data Assistant
(PDA) devices became more readily available and
cost effective. These devices generally utilize a
combination of prompts such as video, photos,
vibration and recorded verbal cues. These devices
engage users through many modalities and are easy to
individualize for a variety of different tasks. Auditory
or tactile (vibration) cues can be programmed to
alert users that fail to complete steps in a timely
manner [17]. This promotes errorless learning, which
is a major benefit of these devices over picture cues
alone.
Research question #3
This study also examined whether AT use increases
success or employability due to the use of AT. Eight
out of nine studies support the beneficial effects of
AT tools in the workplace. These articles reported
increased accuracy, independence and generalization
of skills following the implementation of AT. The
results of the survey by Williams et al. [13] was
included in our initial data analysis as they reported
the use of AT in the workplace. However, it was not
experimental data and was not included in the results
table (Table V), as it did not report specific
information about subjects.
Research question #4
The final question was to discover the indicators of
employment success. The initial assumption was that
success would be measured as a higher rate of pay or
job stability. We also expected to find reports of
increased job satisfaction by employers or employees,
as a result of AT use. The most frequently reported
indicators of success on the job were increased rates of
accuracy, independence and the ability for workers to
generalize skills to additional tasks or settings, as
outlined in Table IV. None of the studies we reviewed
reported information on rates of pay or job stability.
Three of the studies reported employer satisfaction,
stating that the workers with CD appeared to be busier
Table IV. Success indicators.
Reference) Accuracy Independence Generalized skills Higher pay Employee satisfaction Employer satisfaction
Connis [14] NR "NR NR NR NR
Wacker (1983) "NR "NR NR NR
Wacker et al. [15] "" " NR NR NR
Steed and Lutzker [16] "" " NR NR NR
Tabor et al. [17] "" NR NR NR "
Furniss and Ward [2] "NR NR NR ""
Lancioni et al. [18] "NR NR NR ""
Davies et al. [19] "" NR NR "NR
Williams et al. [13]* NR NR NR NR NR NR
Total # of studies
(N)
75 3 0 3 3
*Williams et al. [13]: did not present appropriate experimental data in any of the indicators.
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Table V. Results table.
Study* Intervention Outcomes
{
Results/conclusion
Connis [14] Comparison
Pre-test vs. post-pest for ‘independent task change’ with
picture cue training.
Duration
Data were collected throughout work day (5 h/day)
Data was collected over 90 vocational training days:
Baseline: Data were collected over 18 vocational training
days
Picture-cue training: Data were collected over 18.5 (mean)
vocational training days
Post-training (daily checks)/Maintenance: Data were
collected over 21.5 (mean) vocational training days
Post-training (weekly checks)/Maintenance: Data were
collected 1x/week over 6 weeks. This began on day 65 and
ended on day 90. During post-training, subject could
choose to use the picture cues or not use the picture cues
Accuracy
Not reported
Independence
The % of independent task change:
Baseline
X¼57%
Picture-cue training
X¼96.5%
Post-training (daily checks)
X¼97%
Post-training (weekly checks)
X¼95%
Frequency of picture use during post-training on day 70 and
day 90, respectively:
X¼49%
Generalization
Not reported
1. During self-recording and picture-cue training, the subjects
completed an increased proportion of independent task changes
2. Subject demonstrated the ability to maintain skills over time with
the use of picture cues
3. Self-recorded and the use of picture cues were shown to be an
effective procedure for teaching mentally retarded adults to
function more independently in a job setting
4. Observers informally observed a decrease in the use of pictures
towards the end of the post-training phase. Subjects were either
selective in marking the squares or marked several squares at once
and then changed tasks correctly. Subjects continued high
percentages of independent task changes, even though their
frequencies of picture-cue use diminished over time, suggests that
the high proportion of independent task changes may have
maintained with total removal of the training package
Wacker and Berg (1983) Comparison
Pre-test vs. post-test for ‘percent of correct steps’, during a
vocational task, while using pictures cues
Maintenance effects
Generalization of performance
Duration
Training tasks
Mean number of sessions for black valve task (n¼5):
Baseline: 5.6 sessions
Training (step 3): 6.4 sessions
Post-test 1: 3 sessions
Post-test 2 (picture cue removed): 2 sessions
Maintenance (2–4 weeks after post-training 2): 3.2
sessions
Mean number of sessions for circuit board task (n¼3):
Baseline: 5.6 sessions
Training: 6 sessions
Post-test 1: 3 sessions
Post-test 2 (picture cue removed): 2 sessions
Maintenance (2–4 weeks after post-training 2):
not-reported
Generalization Tasks: packaging and red valve assembly:
Mean number of sessions for generalization tasks (n¼3):
Baseline: 9.3 sessions
Training: no training
Accuracy
Percent of steps completed correctly for black valve
assembly (n¼5):
Baseline: range (approx) ¼20%–55%
Training: range ¼40%–100% with all subjects at 100% for
last two data points collected
Post-test 1: 100%
Post-test 2: 100%
Maintenance: 4/5 subjects ranged from 98% to 100% and
the last subject ranging from 65% to 100%.
Percent of steps completed correctly for circuit board
assembly (n¼3):
Baseline: range (approx) ¼0–70%
Training: 100%
Post-test 1: range (approx) ¼98%–100%
Post-test 2: 100%
Maintenance: not reported
Independence
Not reported
Generalization
Percent of steps completed correctly for
generalization tasks (n¼3):
Baseline: range (approx) ¼0–35%
Training: no training
Post-test 1: range (approx) ¼50%–100%
1. Task training with picture prompts was effective in teaching all
students to assemble the black valve. Following training and the
use of picture prompts, all students were able to continue to
perform the all steps, with 100% accuracy, with and without
picture prompts. 4/5 subjects were able to maintain 98% accuracy
or above during the maintenance period
2. Task training with picture prompts with the second training tasks
(circuit board) with 2/3 subjects performed all steps with 100%
accuracy and the third subject performing with 100% accuracy
during 4/5 trials
3. During generalization tasks, all subjects improved their accuracy
of performance substantially above their baseline numbers, but
only one subject increased her performance to 100% accuracy.
All subjects generalized their use of the picture books with each
student turning the pages of the book correctly and independently
4. During the generalization tasks, a substantial decrease was noted
when picture cues were removed, but increase again once picture
cues were reinstated
5. Picture prompts can be effective in promoting generalization of
tasks and in improving accuracy for complex vocational
performance for adolescents with moderately to severely mental
retardation
6. Subject was able to maintain higher levels of accuracy with the
removal of picture prompts with the training tasks, but not with
the generalization tasks
7. Once students are trained to use picture cues effectively, few
training trials may be required on future tasks that also use
picture cues
(continued)
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Table V. (Continued).
Study* Intervention Outcomes
{
Results/conclusion
Post-test 1: 3 sessions
Post-test 2: 2.3 sessions
Post-test 1: 2.3 sessions
Training (completed with 2/3 subjects with packaging task
only): 3 sessions
Post-test 1 (completed with 2 subjects that needed training
on the packaging tasks): 2.5 sessions
Post-test 2: range (approx) ¼0–80%
Post-test 1: range (approx) 65%–100%
Training (completed with 2/3 subjects owith packaging task
only): % not reported during training
Post-test 1 (completed with 2/3 subjects who needed
training on the packaging tasks): 100%
Wacker et al. [15] Comparison
Pre-test and post-test for ‘percent of correct task steps’
Percent of independence with page turning after training
Generalization of skills to two ‘generalization tasks’, one
similar to the training task and one dissimilar
Duration
Mean number of session across training task and
generalization tasks (2) for all participants:
Baseline: 8.3 sessions
Training (step 3): 44 sessions
Post-training (training task only): 4.3 sessions
Probe (generalization tasks only): 2.3 sessions
Maintenance: 3.1 sessions over 3–4 months
Accuracy
Percent of correct task steps completed for all subjects and
all tasks (mean):
Baseline: 455%
Training: 72.2%
Post-training (training task only): 93.8%
Probe (generalization tasks only): 46.7%
Maintenance: 74%
Independence
Percent of independence with page turning for all subjects
and all tasks (mean):
Baseline: not reported
Training: 76.2%
Post-training (training task only): 95%
Probe (generalization tasks only): 73.4%
Maintenance: 93.6%
Generalization
Task 1 (task similar to training task):
Baseline:
task steps: 26.7%
Probe
task steps : 62.8%
page turning : 83.5 %
Training
task steps: 78.2%
page turning: 85.6%
Maintenance
task steps: 86.3%
1. All students required extensive training with initially training task
(143, 79 and 83 sessions)
2. Following extensive training and the use of picture prompts
(book), all the subjects performed at high levels of accuracy
3. All subjects generalized their skills to ‘generalization tasks’
without additional training
4. A substantial reduction of training was needed for both
generalization tasks following the acquisition of the training task
5. All subjects maintain their skill on the training task and at least
one of the generalization skills over a 3–4 month maintenance
period.
6. All subjects demonstrated improved independence with page-
turning skills.
(continued)
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Table V. (Continued).
Study* Intervention Outcomes
{
Results/conclusion
page turning: 100%
Task 2 (dissimilar from training task):
Baseline
task steps : 24.8%
Probe
task steps : 29.7%
page turning : 60.1%
Training
task steps: 71.2%
page turning: 84.4%
Maintenance
task steps: 61.5%
page turning: 89.3%
Steed and Lutzker [16] Comparison
Pre-test and post-test to look at ‘percentage of steps
completed’ with the use of a picture book.
Maintenance effects
Ability to generalize skills
Duration
Training and picture prompts
Baseline: range of 1–4 months
Training: range of 1–2 months
Post-training: range of 1–4 months
Picture book removed: approximately 1 week
Maintenance: Collected at 1, 3 and 6 months following
initial training.
Generalization with picture prompts
Picture prompts only: approximately 1 month
Picture prompts (book) removed: approximately 2–3 weeks
Picture prompts (book) reintroduced: ranged from
approximately 1–3 months
Accuracy
Percent of steps completed accurately with training and
picture prompts for three training tasks:
Baseline: 413%
Post-training: 587%
Picture cues (book) removed: 0%
Picture cues (book) reintroduced: 587%
Maintenance: 97%
Independence
Not reported
Generalization
Percent of steps completed with generalization task
(dusting sofa wood);
Picture prompts (no training): 92%
Picture prompts (book) removed: 0%
Picture prompts (book) reintroduced: 92%
Percent of steps completed with generalization task
(emptying trash):
Picture prompts (no training): 100%
Picture prompts (book) removed: 55%
1. Picture prompts represent an alternative to instructor assistance
for task completion
2. Picture prompts were successful in increasing the percentage of
steps completed for each of the tasks. However, practice was still
needed to ensure the overall quality of the subjects’ performance
3. Skill performance was maintained over time with continued use
of picture prompts with this subject
4. Subject generalized the use of picture prompts to similar tasks
with this subject
(continued)
AT effects on employment 9
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Table V. (Continued).
Study* Intervention Outcomes
{
Results/conclusion
Picture prompts (book) reintroduced: 100%
Tabor, et al. [17] Comparison
Pre-test and post-test to look at the ‘percent of independent
task transition’ for subjects using auditory prompts
Single word prompts vs. multiple-word prompt
Maintenance effects
Withdraw effects
Duration
Mean number of session reported for all subjects across
both settings:
Baseline: 13.8 sessions
Intervention: 13.4 sessions
Maintenance: 10.5 sessions
Withdrawal: 4 sessions
Accuracy
Not reported
Independence
Mean number of independent task transition (max ¼6):
Baseline: 2 transitions
Intervention: 5.8 transitions
Maintenance: 6 transitions
Withdrawal:
– auditory prompts removed: 0.5 transitions
– auditory prompts reinstated: 6 transitions
Generalization
Not reported
1. Found self-operated auditory prompts were helpful to control for
desired behaviors (independent task transition)
2. Found self-operated auditory prompts effective for teaching
workers with moderate mental retardation to manage their own
task change behavior in vocational settings
3. Found auditory prompting system can be generalized across
settings without additional training
4. Statistical analysis revealed a statistically significant difference
between baseline and both auditory promptings systems in both
vocational settings
5. Visual and statistical analysis of the data revealed no significant
differences between lengths of verbal prompts. Therefore, single
word and multi-word auditory prompts were found to be equally
effective. Authors initially thought single work would be more
effective
Furniss and Ward [2] Comparison
Pre-test and post-test for accuracy of ‘task completion’ with
computer-aided device (palmtop) and picture cues
(booklet)
Maintenance effect of assistive technology
Computer-aided device (palm-top computer) vs. picture
cues (booklet)
Duration
– Participants were at their given site only one half-day pre-
week.
– The average work uninterrupted work time for all
participates was 71 min.
– Mean number of sessions for all subjects:
Baseline: 1.7 sessions
Introductory training (no data collected): 1.2 sessions
Training: 6.7 sessions
Maintenance: 18.7 sessions
Withdrawal(
{
)(**): 1.7 sessions
Accuracy
Percent of accurate task steps completed (mean):
Baseline: 25.2%
Training: 84.1 %
Maintenance: 79.9%
Withdrawal (all or partial)
x
: 64.9%
Independence
Percent of time engaged on task (mean): 92.7%
Generalization
Not reported
Case 1:
1. After intensive training with the palm-top computer, this subject
performed at 95% accuracy. He had an initial decline in the
maintenance phase, but recovered in session four and five to
100% and 95%, respectively. When the palm-top computer was
removed the subject dropped to 62.5%. He was able to recover
over three sessions to end at 90.3% accuracy
Case Study 2:
1. This study compared the use of the palm-top computer with
instructions and prompts compared to instructions and no
prompts. This subject improved from 14.7% accuracy at baseline
to an average of 85.5% accuracy after intensive training. There
was a decline with maintenance with an average accuracy of
68.7%. With the removal of prompts there was a further decline
with an average accuracy of 53%. When the prompts were
reintroduced the subject’s accuracy improved to an average of
86.3%, with a high of 92%
2. In addition to decreased accuracy without the prompting device,
the subject also required more time. The subject required
24.3 min without prompts and 19.8 min with prompts
Case Study 3:
1. This study looked at accuracy of the palm-top computer device
compared to picture cues (books). This subject’s accuracy
improved from 36% at baseline to 85.9% with the palm-top
computer and 80.7% with the picture book. During maintenance,
the subject’s accuracy decreased slightly to 75.4% with the palm-
top computer and 78% with the picture book. When all supports
were removed, the subject’s accuracy remained similar at 78%
accuracy, which is inconsistent with the other case studies
(continued)
10 A.L. Sauer et al.
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Table V. (Continued).
Study* Intervention Outcomes
{
Results/conclusion
discussed in this article
Case Study 4:
1. The use of a palm-top computer and picture book, with 81.3%
and 87% accuracy, respectively, but the subject completed the
task faster with the palm-top computer (10.1 min) compared to
the picture book (20.7 min).
2. When the subject worked without the palm-top computer
completed fewer tasks correctly (57.7%), confirming the palm-
top computer was effective for this subject accuracy (85.3%
before withdraw and 84.5% accuracy after withdraw).
Case study 5:
1. Comparing the use of a palm-top computer device and a picture
booklet along with step-by-step instructions and ‘clustered’
instruction, the subject performed best with the palm-computer
and ‘clustered’ instructions (100% accuracy)
Case Study 6:
1. This study examined the long-term changes with the use of a
palm-top computer. The subject started with a baseline average of
28.5%, increasing to 81.5% with intensive training. The subject’s
accuracy dropping initially, but averaging 71.3% with a final score
of 85%, exceeding the average achieved during intensive training
Overall:
1. Palm-top computers along with intensive training were effective
in enabling these participants to perform work tasks with a high
degree of accuracy
2. After intensive training by a job coach, there was an initial
decrease in accuracy; however, over time 4/6 participants showed
further improvements beyond what they achieved with intensive
training
3. Accuracy difference between the use of palm-top computer or
picture cues (book) and withdraw of devices was greater for tasks
where most or all tasks steps were unique versus when the task
steps were more repetitive
4. The overall difference between palm-top computer and picture
cues (books) for these case studies seems to be in performance
(continued)
AT effects on employment 11
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Table V. (Continued).
Study* Intervention Outcomes
{
Results/conclusion
fluency rather than accuracy
5. Views from careers based on interview questions (questions given
point values):
– Overall benefit of palm-top computer device: extremely positive
(mean ¼20.6/24 points)
Relationship with fellow employees: positive (mean ¼2.75/3
points)
6. Views from co-workers and employers base on interview
questions (questions given point values):
Suitable work placement: positive (mean ¼9/12 points)
Ease of social interaction: less positive (mean ¼6/12 points)
– Acceptability of palm-top computer device: moderately positive
(mean ¼15.5/24 points)
– Job effectiveness: positive (17.7/27 points)
6. Computer-aided devices may offer considerable potential as tools
to enable person with severe DD to maintain engagement with,
and accurate completion of, complex vocational tasks
Lancioni, et al. [18] Comparison
Experiment 1:
– Pre-test and post-test to examine ‘number of correct steps
with computer-aided device (palmtop) and picture cues
(cards) coupled with verbal or vibratory prompts.
– Cross-over test switch the device/tasks opposite that of the
maintenance phase (i.e., task that was presented in the
computer-aided system were presented in the card system
and vice versa).
Experiment 2:
– Using the computer-aided device only with different levels
of instruction: no instruction; clustered instructions; and
omitted instructions
Duration
– Participants’ only completed one tasks per session.
– Participants’ completed one to three sessions per day.
Experiment 1:
Mean number of sessions for all subjects:
Baseline: 9 .3 sessions
Introductory Training: 6 sessions
Training: 20 sessions
Maintenance: 23.7 sessions
Cross-over test: 16 sessions
Experiment 2:
Mean number of sessions for all subjects:
No instruction: 32 sessions
Cluster instruction: 32 sessions
Accuracy
Experiment 1 (n ¼6)
Percent of correct steps (mean)
{{
:
Baseline: 8.5%
Training: 64%
Maintenance: 93.5%
Cross-test: 87.5%
Experiment 2 (n¼3)
Percent of correct steps (mean)
{{
:
No instruction: 56.3%
Cluster instruction: 85.3%
Omitted instructions: 80.7%
Independence
Not reported
Generalization
Not reported
Experiment 1:
1. Overall percent of correct tasks were 10%–42% higher than with
the card system
2. With the cross-over tests, participants had an improvement of
14%–36% with tasks transferred from the card system to the
computer system, but showed a 9%–30% deterioration with tasks
transferred from the computer system to the card system
3. Computer prompts occurred more frequently during the training
phase (x ¼5 prompts/session) compared to other phases
4. Participants preferred the computer system (x ¼90%) over the
card system
Experiment 2:
1. The mean percentage for instructions organized with clusters was
similar to the maintenance and crossover test of the first
experiment
2. All three subjects had greater accuracy with the clustered
instructions compared to when instructions were omitted
3. The computer system can be adjusted to in the way the
instructions are delivered to meet the needs/level of the client.
Overall
1. Although both computer-aided systems and card systems proved
to be helpful in improving accuracy of task completion, the
computer-aided systems were 10%–42% more effective than card
system
2. Those subjects with lower levels of achievement showed a wider
performance discrepancy between the computer system and the
card system
(continued)
12 A.L. Sauer et al.
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Table V. (Continued).
Study* Intervention Outcomes
{
Results/conclusion
Omitted instructions: 32 sessions
Davies, et al. [19] Comparison
Comparing outcomes for vocational tasks both with and
without support from the portable visual/audio training
and support provided with the ‘Visual Assistant’.
Duration
Each participant completed each task (two tasks total), two
times, once with the Visual Assistant and once without
Accuracy
Number of errors made (mean):
Visual Assistant: 0.75
xx
No visual Assistant: 2.25
xx
Independence
Number of prompts required for each step:
Visual Assistant: 1.05
xx
No visual Assistant: 2.40
xx
Generalization
Not reported
1. The observed mean difference for errors per task was statistically
significant (p5.006)
2. The observed mean difference for errors per task was statistically
significant (p5.032)
3. Although preliminary due to the small sample size, the results
support that a multi-media training, with a palm-top computer,
can be effective in improving independence and accuracy for
adults with MR performing community-based vocational tasks
4. The use of portable palm-top devices has the potential for
reducing the need for human assistance for individuals with MR
5. Portable palm-top devices can be a useful adjunct to training and
supports to promote community inclusion
6. Experiences with the Visual Assistant elicited comments positive
comments from the participants (based on authors’ observations)
*Williams et al. [13] not included in this table since experimental data was not collected.
{
The numbers listed in the outcomes column are only approximate based on the readability of the graphs and tables presented in the articles.
{
1 session ¼15 min.
x
Only reported withdraw data for 5/6 subjects.
{
Only reported withdraw data for 5/6 subjects.
**Includes all or partial withdraw of assistive technology.
{{
numbers are approximate due to lack of specificity on figure/graph within the original article.
{{
The 3 subjects from experiment 2 also participated in experiment 1.
xx
Significant difference.
AT effects on employment 13
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while using the AT intervention [2,17,18]. In two of
the studies, employees were asked to report their
preferred ATs. The workers selected the palm device
more often than the picture cue books [2,18].
Limitations
Our literature search yielded a relatively small amount
of studies that met the search criteria (see Figure 1).
The present literature is limited to small sample size
studies; no more than 10 participants were included in
any of the experiments. Although the studies reported
positive effects on the employment outcomes of
workers with CD, it would be difficult to generalize
such a small quantity of results to larger portions of
this population. Another limitation is the length of the
studies. Most subjects only participated in vocational
training for a limited amount of time each week. The
studies did not to measure long-term maintenance of
skills gained with AT use. Maintenance of skills
measured in these studies ranged from only 2 weeks
to 6 months. Although the use of AT in these studies
showed positive results, data may be stronger if
vocational training was longer and if long-term
maintenance was reported.
The information provided in the survey by
Williams et al. [13] was included in this review
because it provided quantitative information on AT
tools used in the workplace. However, the term
‘mental limitation’ was not explicitly defined, as it
was in the remaining studies, leaving the level of the
cognitive disability unknown.
Relevance of studies
Regardless of the limitations, these studies could
easily be replicated in other vocational or educational
settings. In following the simple format used in these
quasi-experimental studies, teachers or job coaches
could collect pre- and post-AT intervention data in
school or community settings. Baseline data could be
collected using a task analysis and compared to data
collected after implementing new AT interventions.
Most of these job tasks involved limited steps,
simplifing the process of measuring success. The
early studies included are still relevant today, as low-
tech interventions of picture and audio prompts can
be upgraded to higher tech tools (i.e., PDA) available
today.
Conclusions
As a result of this systematic review of literature, we
can conclude a number of important findings to
improve our AT practices with this population. The
evidence indicates that the AT cuing systems make
this population more independent and assist in
increasing job completion and accuracy [2,14–17
,19]. The AT cuing systems examined also helped
individuals with CD generalize job skills to other
tasks and settings.
Recommendations
As AT is becoming less complicated and more cost
effective, all of these factors will increase the
possibility of AT tools being utilized in school and
vocational settings. These cuing systems are exam-
ples of AT interventions that could be adapted to any
budget or level of sophistication. Low-tech cuing
systems, such as picture cue books, are easier and
less expensive to make now that digital cameras are
more prevalent. Conversely, high-tech palm devices
are also less expensive and easier to use and are
socially valid in mainstream settings. Any of these
low- or high-tech cuing systems should be intro-
duced in school settings to support students with CD
as they transition into the vocational training stage of
their education. AT support teams should increase
funding and training for these tools. AT teams, adult
service provider agencies and vocational profes-
sionals should work together to provide these tools
and train teachers and job coaches.
Future research
The use of multiple prompts with PDA devices are
currently being researched by AbleLink [21], a
vendor based in Colorado. AT and vocational
training professionals should be knowledgeable of
this research to positively influence AT practices with
this population. Continued research should focus on
long-term maintenance of skills with AT, using
larger sample sizes to increase the validity of the
results. Future research should also focus on
implementing these AT interventions earlier in
school vocational programs to increase employ-
ability.
Finally, to improve our AT practices, AT
professionals should work to promote continued
research in our field and demand higher standards
from manufacturers. Implementation of research-
based AT practices in middle and high school
settings can benefit this population as they transi-
tion to the workforce. Therefore, AT and voca-
tional training professionals should begin working
together to introduce AT approaches in transition
and vocational training programs in the public
school setting.
14 A.L. Sauer et al.
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Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge the assis-
tance and mentoring of Maureen Melonis and Shelly
Elfner from the Assistive Technology Partners at the
University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical
Campus for their mentorship and guidance through
conducting this systematic review. This study was
supported by the U.S. Department of Education
grant H325040122-05. Any opinions, findings, and
conclusions or recommendations expressed in this
material are those of the author(s) and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department
of Education.
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AT effects on employment 15
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... During the past thirty years, legislative and philosophical forces have attempted to enhance the participation of youth and adults with disabilities in the labor market. Since 1970, many public policy initiatives related to employers and the employment of individuals with disability have been made, starting with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) (United States) [1], The human rights movement's interest in normalization, integration, and abolishing institutions has led to a change in the attitude towards work of individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID), and to new legislation and policies [2]. In 1975, the United States Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children (EHA) Act, as children with cognitive disabilities (such as Down syndrome, autism, brain injuries ... and others) were excluded from public education. ...
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Thesis
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هدفت الدراسة للتعرف على مستوى توافر خدمات التأهيل المهني للأفراد ذوي الإعاقة الفكرية في مؤسسات التأهيل المهني من وجهة نظر العاملين والعاملات فيها في محافظة الخرج، والكشف عن مدى مساهمة هذه المؤسسات في نجاح انتقالهم إلى العمل، كما سعت هذه الدراسة لإيجاد الفروق في استجابات العاملين والعاملات فيها تبعا للمتغيرات التالية: الجنس، المؤهل العلمي، سنوات الخبرة، نوع القطاع. وتوصلت النتائج إلى أن مستوى توافر خدمات التأهيل المهني بمؤسسات التأهيل المهني، ومدى مساهمة هذه المؤسسات في نجاح انتقال الأفراد ذوي الإعاقة الفكرية إلى العمل من وجهة نظر العاملين والعاملات فيها بمحافظة الخرج جاءت بدرجة متوسطة، كما تشير النتائج إلى ضعف مؤسسات التأهيل المهني في تحقق الهدف الرئيسي منها في تمكين الأفراد ذوي الإعاقة الفكرية من الحصول على العمل، كما أنها اتبعت الطرق التقليدية في برامجها. أيضًا يفتقر العاملين والعاملات في مؤسسات التأهيل المهني للمعرفة الكاملة حول توفير الفرص الانتقالية الناجحة للعمل. وأوضحت النتائج وجود فروق ذات دلالة إحصائية بين استجابات العاملين والعاملات بمؤسسات التأهيل المهني تبعا لمتغير(سنوات الخبرة، ونوع القطاع) وذلك لصالح من خبرتهم 5 سنوات فأقل، ومراكز التربية الخاصة. بينما لم توجد فروق ذات دلالة إحصائية تبعا لمتغير(الجنس، والمؤهل العلمي). وبناءً على النتائج توصي الدراسة بإعادة النظر في الخدمات المقٌدمة بمؤسسات التأهيل المهني والعمل على تطويرها، وإعداد متخصصين مهنيين بالمدارس الحكومية للعمل كفريق تعاون متعددي التخصصات. والتشجيع على إشراك أصحاب العمل وجهات التوظيف في العملية التدريبية، وتوفير الفرص الوظيفية للأفراد ذوي الإعاقة الفكرية.
... The actual state of the literature shows that technical aspects of cognitive assistance systems have already been extensively researched [8,9,10,11,12,13]. The primary goal in the development of technical assistance systems is to implement new technologies in the company according to strategic and operational aspects. ...
... Such concerns have been acknowledged in the early literature [68,69], which have noted the possibility for apparently contradictory statistical evidence when measuring differences in selection rates vs. differences in non-selection rates. Second, the assumption of universal positive polarity in = 1 neglects more complex nuances; in the original context of employment, the holistic consideration of the underemployment of women [83], youths [12], and racial minorities [48]; exploitative labor conditions that affect vulnerable workers like those in lower-income countries [71], children [60], and trafficked slaves [57,82]; and other concerns around people with disabilities [44,66], social class [62], immigration [55], labor organizing [63], freelancing [75], and corporate social responsibility [18], are all necessary for determining the deontic value of an employment selection. Similar deontic assumptions must be confronted in other contexts, such as granting bail to those who cannot afford it in the context of criminal justice [5]. ...
Preprint
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Computer scientists are trained to create abstractions that simplify and generalize. However, a premature abstraction that omits crucial contextual details creates the risk of epistemic trespassing, by falsely asserting its relevance into other contexts. We study how the field of responsible AI has created an imperfect synecdoche by abstracting the four-fifths rule (a.k.a. the 4/5 rule or 80% rule), a single part of disparate impact discrimination law, into the disparate impact metric. This metric incorrectly introduces a new deontic nuance and new potentials for ethical harms that were absent in the original 4/5 rule. We also survey how the field has amplified the potential for harm in codifying the 4/5 rule into popular AI fairness software toolkits. The harmful erasure of legal nuances is a wake-up call for computer scientists to self-critically re-evaluate the abstractions they create and use, particularly in the interdisciplinary field of AI ethics.
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Chapter
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