Enhancing Control and Empowerment of Elders through Assistive Technology: Collaborative Research between Computer Scientists and Social Workers

By Phebe Sessions and Allen Hanson.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This presentation describes a study funded by the National Science Foundation which is a joint project between the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Department of Computer Science and the Smith College School for Social Work. The social work team has employed qualitative methods of study to elicit the priorities of elders, caregivers, and professionals who serve elders which have enabled computer scientists to configure computer-based assistive technologies to respond to elders’ identified needs and preferences. A group of elders are currently being coached in the use of the technology by teams of social workers and computer scientists. It is hoped that this study will contribute to the design of more usable, preferred technologies, and greater knowledge of how to prepare elders for their use, which will enable elders to enhance quality of life.

Keywords: Elders and Computer-based Assistive Technology, Interdisciplinary Research

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp.93-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.642MB).

Dr. Phebe Sessions

Professor, School for Social Work, Smith College, Northampton, Northampton, MA, USA

Dr. Phebe Sessions received her doctorate from Brandeis University in Social Policy and has been on the faculty of the Smith College School for Social Work for 30 years. Her research interests have focused on community-based social work theory and practice for socially disenfranchised populations. She has developed courses on private troubles and public issues: the social construction of assessment and metaperspectives for clinical social work which examine the relevance of critical theory and social constructionism for social work practitioners. She has presented and published in this area and is the co-editor of the Handbook of Community-based Clinical Practice.

Prof. Allen Hanson

Professor, Department of Computer Science, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA

Dr. Hanson received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University. Since 1989, he has been on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Computer Science Department, where he has co-directed the Computer Vision Laboratory. The Laboratory is engaged in research across a broad spectrum of areas related to computer vision, with application domains in aerial image analysis and remote sensing, ecosystem modeling and environmental monitoring, multimedia information retrieval, surveillance, industrial automation, biomedical image analysis and interpretation of natural outdoor scenes. He has presented and published widely in these areas.


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