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Assistive Technology Supports and Transition into the Workplace


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Principal Investigator:

Andrew Costello – Assistive Technology officer, Trinty College Dublin .

Research Aim

The research aims to look at the use, adaptation and support levels available to current third level students looking to transfer the assistive technology skills acquired and used at 3rd level into a working full time employment scenario and graduated student working in the employment sector.

The objectives of this research are to:

  • Examine the current state of Assistive Technology provision within Ireland and the EU.
  • Develop an experiment that will ascertain If the use of Assistive Technology has been used in enhancing their educational capabilities and if such technology could be transferred to a working environment.
  • Based on the evaluation, suggest framework/ exit strategy for the successful transition of acquired transitive technology skills from an educational environment to and employment environment. 
  • Make recommendations for any future research in this area

Background

The numbers of students with disabilities choosing to go to higher education has dramatically increased in the last decade. Aligned to this has been the growth in the availability of assistive technologies supports available at Third level that procure and support the use of a range of enabling devices that both enhance the user ability educationally but enable them acquire skills they can benefit from as a tool in further life activities such as employment and social settings.  Craddock (2002) develops a view of how such technologies need to have a constant support chain for the user to benefit from and adapt too. Such a view argues the need to have use of a technical/knowledgeable support framework to give the user a starting point to use such technologies. Without such a support network the user is unaware of the full benefit of engaging in assistive technology and how it can enhance the user’s life goals and can eventually lead to non-use.

To reduce such abandonment a need for the use of a consistent assistive technology assessment processes to aid in the choice and supports levels is a common tool used. The use of an assessment process aims to engage with the end user and ensure they are the driver in the selection of supports available.
Issues on how assistive devices service provision are supported and accepted is a key factor of the research proposal. The transition of assistive devices and skills into an employment sector of users of assistive devices remain unclear. Despite the support and use of such technologies in completing their educational sector it is unclear how such technologies are used in starting work in the employment sector or if the user feels disclosing such technologies would curtail a student’s employment opportunities.

As student’s numbers have shown to continually increase the importance of providing a transitional service delivery of Assistive technology increases. The need to encourage/ highlight the transitional movement of skills and devices attained within a 3rd level environment to enhance user’s ability and confidence to gaining meaningful employment. Such a transitional support improves the rate of use or non-abandonment of such devices and highlights how such technologies can enhance their ability in a new environment.

Methodology:

Building upon the areas illustrated above this research plans to evaluate the use or non-use of assistive devices of graduated students from a 3rd level environment and evaluate the level of supports they has been made available to them via their employers. The research will also question if current final year 3rd level students value the technology they have engaged in and see it as a tool they wish to bring to an employment environment or they see the technology been detrimental to their employment chances. The dataset will be collected using a case study methodology surrounding 6-8 students current and past and their experiences present and past using AT in an educational and employment sector.  As such the dataset will be mainly qualitative under headings such as:

  • Support channels
  • Evaluation of need – match of technology
  • Institutional culture
  • Compliance with EU / Irish Law

Disability Service Strategy 2009-2014 phase alignment: Phase 2 & 3
Level of research: M. Sc.in Computing (Universal Design & Assistive Technology)
Supervisor: Dr. Damain Gordon DIT Kevin Street
Stage of research: Final Year 2013-2014