FACE : Disabled People, Technology and Internet

Abstract: This thesis is based on the Internet experiences of people withsignificant mobility/physical impairments who are proficient andexperienced computer users in their computer world but havelimitations in mobility that severely restrict their functioning inthe physical world. The Internet functioning of this group isanalysed by means of the factors attitude, control and enabling,with the main focus on what is achievable when all accessproblems such as unadapted interfaces, beginners’ difficulties andthe digital divide are overcome. If the virtual world is fullyavailable but the real world is not – what are the effects onlearning, self image, communities of practice, sense of coherence,power and control? What are the effects on peer-to-peer learningand co-operation? Independent living concepts and theoriesmanifest themselves throughout the thesis, most obviously,perhaps, in the selection of issues that are studied and in theperspectives.The theoretical background and concepts are those of disabilitystudies, with a social model and independent living perspective,and with strong influences from rehabilitation engineering anddesign.Throughout the thesis elaborations and clarifications of thepossibilities of interplay and co-existence between rehabilitationengineering and design and disability studies are made. Differentaspects of function design and technology are examined from anexpanded view on functioning, where technology is put in anindividual and social context with the FACE (Function – Attitude, Control, Enabling) tool.

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