Literature Review Chapter: Effect of Adaptive and Assistive Technologies on Blind Older Adults

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[. . .] The discussion is based on the premise that assistive devices play an important role in wearable systems for biomedical applications. The significance of this study to the current research is that it highlights the important role of assistive or adaptive technologies as aids for those with physical and sensory disabilities. Through this study, the researcher will understand the significance of assistive/adaptive technologies in improving the quality of life for the blind. Additionally, the study helps in understanding the benefits of wearable devices in enhancing the physical and sensory capabilities of the blind to improve their quality of life.

Wong, M.E. & Cohen, L.G. (2015). Access and Challenges of Assistive Technology

Application: Experience of Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments in Singapore. Disability, CBR and Inclusive Development, 26(4), 138-154.

The study examines the experiences of assistive technology utilization by teachers of students with visual impairments. This evaluation was conducted on the premise that assistive technologies enables individuals with visual impairments to experience autonomous and productive lifestyles. The study found that assistive technologies facilitate information access and enhances the quality of life of those with visual impairments. The results of this study are crucial for the current research in terms of the role assistive and adaptive technologies in improving the quality of life for those with visual impairments. These findings will help in examining how these technologies will be impact blind older adults.

Wong, M.E. & Tan, S.S.K. (2012). Teaching the Benefits of Smart Phone Technology

to Blind Consumers: Exploring the Potential of the iPhone. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 106(10), 646-650.

The researchers examine how training blind consumers of smart phone technology like the iPhone is beneficial to this population. This study was conducted on the premise that mobile technology has attracted considerable attention in the recent past since its transforming how people interact in their consumers' experience. The findings of the study are crucial in understanding how mobile technology can be developed and utilized as an assistive or adaptive technology to help the blind. In this case, mobile technology involves developing applications that are specifically designed for those with visual impairments. As an adaptive or assistive technology, mobile technology should be considered as an alternative to enhance the experiences of blind individuals.

Part 3 -- Literature Review

Introduction and Thesis

World population has continued to grow tremendously in recent decades and characterized by the increase in the number of older adults. The number of older adults has increased because a significant portion of the world population is aging while those aged 65 years and above are one of the fastest growing age groups worldwide. The significant growth of the elderly population is also attributable decreased fertility rates and increasing lifespans of older adults. While the world population continues to grow, approximately 1% of the human population suffers from visual impairments while 10% are completely blind (Dhananjeyan et al., 2016). Older adults are the most affected population with visual impairment since visual impairments and blindness conditions are linked to longer life expectancies. Older adults with visual impairments or blindness face several challenges including difficulties in mobility, independence, and accomplishing daily life activities. Therefore, there is need to identify suitable solutions to improve the quality of life of older adults with visual impairments. Assistive/adaptive technologies enhance functional independence and quality of life of older adults with visual impairments aged 55 years and above.

Literature Review

Challenges Faced by Older Adults with Visual Impairments

Morris, Mueller & Jones (2010) state that disabilities increases with age given that aging is characterized by conditions that affect the normal functioning of an individual. These researchers found that tomorrow's elders are likely to experience disabilities and other conditions that affect their daily functioning. Morris, Mueller & Jones (2010) argue that older adults experience decline in physical and sensory capabilities due to visual impairments or older adults. Due to visual impairments or blindness, older adults affects independent living and decreased mental capability, which affects the quality of life. Adebiyi et al. (2016) concurs by arguing that people with visual impairments or blindness experience limited mobility and decline functional capabilities, especially in tasks that depend on vision. However, Adebiyi et al. (2016) state that the effects of visual impairments on functional independence and quality of life occur regardless of the individual's age. Additionally, older adults with visual impairments experience tremendous challenges to navigate independently.

In an earlier study, Maidenbaum et al. (2014) found that visual impairments affect the independent mobility of older adults in various aspects like navigation, distance approximation, and obstacle avoidance. As older adults face these challenges, their quality of life across everyday activities is negatively affected (Maidenbaum et al., 2014; Adebiyi et al., 2016). In concurrence, Dhananjeyan et al. (2016) contend that the available systems to assist older adults with visual impairments do not address the challenges faced by these individuals effectively. The researchers contend that available systems like blind navigation systems relying on GPS are not beneficial for local navigation of older adults with visual impairments. These systems and devices fail in enhancing local path planning and collision avoidance capabilities of older adults with visual impairments though they are designed to enhance the functional independence and capabilities of this population (Velazquez, 2010).

Adams et al. (2016) provide a different perspective on the challenges faced by older adults with visual impairments. The researchers contend that visual impairment affect information processing capabilities of older adults due to its impact on their physical and sensory abilities. The difficulties in information processing by this population exists despite the fact that visually impaired people need to process huge chunks of information as compared to sighted people across the globe. These findings align with the results of a study conducted by Velazquez (2010), which found that individuals with visual impairments have problems relating to information transmission and processing. Some of the information transmission and processing challenges facing these individuals include reading and character recognition (Velazquez, 2010).

Impact of Assistive/Adaptive Technologies on Older Adults with Visual Impairments

The need to enhance the quality of life, independence and mobility of older adults has gained significant attention in recent years. Assistive and adaptive technologies have shown huge potential in promoting/enhancing the functional independence and quality of life of older adults with visual impairments or blindness. According to Velazquez (2010), the potential of assistive/adaptive technologies in addressing the plight of older adults with visual impairments is attributable to the fact that the technologies provide powerful and fast interfaces that help those with disabilities like visual impairments. Through assistive/adaptive technologies, wearable technologies and devices have been developed for task-specific solutions, which help in enhancing the functional independence and quality of life of older adults with visual impairments or total blindness. In concurrence Kim et al. (2012) states that new technology holds significant potential for enhancing the quality of life and health of older adults, especially those with visual impairments or blindness.

Maidenbaum et al. (2014) state that assistive/adaptive technology has been found to enhance mobility of older adults with visual impairments. The improved mobility emerges from enhancing an individual's spatial perception of the environment in relation to simple navigation, obstacle detection, and distance estimation (Maidenbaum et al., 2014). Adebiyi et al. (2016) concurs by stating that assistive/adaptive technologies such as sensory substitution devices help older adults with visual impairments to navigate relatively complex paths. These technologies enable individuals to navigate complex paths through enhancing their capabilities to follow simple verbal and vibrotactile instructions. Similarly, Dhananjeyan et al. (2016) argues that assistive/adaptive technologies like blind audio guidance systems improves navigation capabilities of older adults with visual impairments. These systems enable visually impaired users to press a button and provide information regarding their desired destination and then directed through the use of audio instructions (Dhananjeyan et al., 2016). In this process, the devices or systems developed through assistive/adaptive technologies enhances the capabilities of visually impaired people to move without collisions and easily detect obstacles through the use of sensors.

Wong & Cohen (2015) state that assistive/adaptive technologies enable individuals with visual impairments to have autonomous and productive lives. The improved independence and productive lives emerging from assistive/adaptive technologies is attributable to the impact of the technologies on the physical and sensory capabilities of those with visual impairments (Morris, Mueller & Jones, 2010). Kim et al. (2014) state that there is compelling evidence that demonstrates that assistive/adaptive technologies enable older adults to become more active in daily life and enhance their quality of life.

In conclusion, the population of older adults continue to increase due to various factors including the increased life expectancies of these individuals. However, visual impairments continue to be a major challenge for these individuals and affect their quality of life. The elderly population is one of the most affected age groups with visual impairments or blindness, which necessitates the need for development of effective solutions. The existing literature has demonstrated that assistive/adaptive technologies enhance functional independence and quality of life of older adults with visual impairments aged 55… [END OF PREVIEW]

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