The Visually Disabled and the Elderly in the Age of IC Technologies

M. Pilar Munuera Gómez, Ph.D. (Editor)
Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain

Samuel A. Navarro Ortega, PhD (Editor)
The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Series: Disability and the Disabled – Issues, Laws and Programs
BISAC: SOC029000

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This volume presents a survey of technological innovations that enhance both the learning processes and the living conditions of individuals who live with a disability and the elderly. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) refers to technologies that process, store and communicate information to single users and across groups of users. Computers, microelectronics, multimedia and telecommunications are examples of widespread ICT media, largely available in homes, the workplace, and academic centers.

New Information and Communication Technologies are now contributing to the social inclusion of people with different kinds of disabilities. These same technologies function as effective tools to aid others who, through a natural decline in their cognitive and physical conditions, require some kind of support. What is more, IC technologies often become the mechanism that facilitates the exercising of disabled persons’ rights, thus enfranchising a community that might otherwise run the risk of being marginalised. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted on 13 December 2006, establishes a before and after in the public perception of people with disabilities following a long period of social exclusion. The Convention aims to ensure the full enjoyment on an equal footing of all human rights for all disabled people.

These advances in legislation establish that those with disabilities, including visual impairment, cognitive disorders, and natural physical decline (to name a few) are complete people. Thus, they possess the legal capacity and as such, they are to be given the opportunity to exercise their rights in the same manner as those members of the community who are free from these constraints. The support and protection of the State, as it adjusts the law to this precept, will thus enshrine a new understanding that goes beyond the “ability to act as a person”, and links the above rights to the unchanging fact of being human.

IC Tech(nologies) involve processing and distributing knowledge, connecting businesses worldwide, and creating fast and efficient communication exchanges. Most importantly, they are largely inclusive, as they recognise neither difficulties nor disabilities. This is the case, for example, with support devices for visually impaired individuals. The devices’ structure emphasizes clean and simple designs, with easily distinguishable control buttons that enable visually impaired people to have a text reader transform printed texts into oral information. Consequently, visually impaired users can now access their favorite newspapers or magazines by hearing news read in natural sounding voices and in more than thirty languages.

The chapters compiled in this book have been organized according to three interrelated thematic subsections. The first subsection groups all chapters that deal with IC technologies employed by the visually impaired or seniors to support learning activities. The second subsection groups chapters whose unifying theme is the use of technologies to boost memory capacity among Alzheimer’s patients and the elderly. The third section deals with social and protectionist policies that safeguard the well-being of the elderly and the disabled.

Preface

Part I. Technological Innovations as Learning Tools

Chapter 1. Technologies That Help Visually Impaired Spanish Learners
(Samuel A. Navarro, PhD, Department of French, Hispanic & Italian Studies, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada)

Chapter 2. OER in Lifelong Learning for Older Adults
(Rosa Navarrete, PhD and Sergio Luján-Mora, PhD, Esc. Politécnica Nacional, Quito, Ecuador; Universidad de Alicante, Alicante, Spain)

Chapter 3. E-Health in Spain
(Vicente Traver Salcedo and Mª Pilar Munuera Gómez, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain)

Part II. Technological Applications for Enhancing Memory Capacity

Chapter 4. Living with Alzheimer's: Social and Family Interventions. Treating Memory Impairment with Assistive Technology
(Rafael Martínez Tomás, PhD and Alejandro Rodríguez Ascaso, PhD, Dept. Inteligencia Artificial, Universidad de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, Spain)

Chapter 5. Memory Training for Healthy Aging
(María Luisa Delgado Losada, PhD, Dept. of Psychology – Cognitive Processes, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain)

Chapter 6. Activity and Physical Exercise for Healthy Aging
(Abidiana Velasco García, Almorox Day Centre, Madrid, Spain)

Part III. Social and Protectionist Policies: The Legal Side

Chapter 7. Accessibility, Social Policies and New Technology
(Mª Pilar Munuera Gómez, PhD & Carmen Alemán Bracho, PhD, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain; Universidad de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, Spain)

Chapter 8. Mediation in a Context of Vulnerability: Functional Dependency
(María del Pilar Munuera Gómez, PhD, Depto. de Trabajo Social y Servicios Sociales, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain)

Index

“This is a timely and useful volume of papers. Technological advances seem to be a daily occurrence, challenging social and educational institutions to keep pace. Realizing the inclusion and equality for persons with disabilities and the growing challenge of an aging population combined with increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s and other dementias will require making full use of technology. This volume provides useful guidance in meeting these challenges with scholarly rigor but presented in a way that will be easily understood by those engaged in the field or students. As a bonus, this volume brings insights and learning from Spain and the Spanish speaking world which are often difficult to access for English speakers. While technology may seem remote from the world of human rights and inclusion, it has become a major force in realizing these goals and this book makes a strong contribution.” - Tim Stainton, PhD, Professor and Director, Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship, University of British Columbia

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