Understanding Computer Users With Tetraplegia: Survey of Assistive Technology Users
An online survey in the form of a questionnaire was conducted to obtain the opinion of computer users with tetraplegia on their current computer interfaces and to assess desirable applications for future independent control using assistive devices. The survey included questions related to information about the respondents' injury/disease, everyday activities and social life, electronic devices and computer programs, evaluation of computer interfaces, and desirable applications for assistive devices. The survey was distributed via tetraplegia associations, magazines, and Internet forums mainly in Denmark and Sweden, but also through other European and American associations. Thirty-one completed questionnaires were collected from individuals with spinal cord injury and other neuromuscular diseases that resulted in tetraplegia. Respondents evaluated gaze and head trackers; speech recognition systems; chin, mouth, and hand joysticks; sip and puff interfaces; and typing sticks. Most interfaces were evaluated in a range from neutral to good. Users expressed a desire for applications to independently control wheelchairs, television sets, doors, and windows. This is, as far as is known, the first study that compares a wide range of current commercial computer interfaces that have been used as part of the users' everyday lives. The answers are useful for designing and developing alternative computer interfaces and assistive devices and for computer-interface users to identify a computer-interface fitting more to his or her needs.