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European project promotes assistive technologies for health and social services

Europe's society is ageing, but assistive technologies can help elderly people lead a more independent and fulfilling life. Knowledge about these technologies among professionals in the health and social services is low, but a European project aims to change all that.

The Imp...
Europe's society is ageing, but assistive technologies can help elderly people lead a more independent and fulfilling life. Knowledge about these technologies among professionals in the health and social services is low, but a European project aims to change all that.

The Impact project, funded by the EU's Telematics Applications programme (part of the Fourth Framework Programme, 1994-98), has produced a courseware package aimed at increasing the take-up of assistive technologies and avoiding their misuse.

The courseware is targeted at the helping professions - family doctors, nurses and social workers - and comes in the form of educational materials that can be incorporated into training courses. It will provide staff with a basic understanding of assistive technology in different areas, for example how it can be used to overcome the disabilities resulting from physical, hearing, vision and communication impairments.

'From a technological perspective, these products are often state-of-the-art and represent the results of innovative R&D efforts,' said Jan Steyaert, a consultant with Dutch company Fontys, the prime contractors on the project. He went on: 'From a human perspective, they make the difference between being able to participate fully in society or not.'

'Unfortunately, from a social perspective, these innovations too often are restricted to a small number of persons. Dissemination is hampered by a shortage of resources and inadequate information on what is currently available. While the Impact project cannot address the shortage of resources, it can increase the awareness of and knowledge about assistive technology amongst professionals in health and social services.'

The educational material uses traditional paper-based teaching methods and also multimedia. It consists of a student's manual, a teacher's manual, case studies, software and sample data.

Project leaders hope to establish a European network to disseminate and enlarge the results by exchanging information and experiences.

The courseware and further information is available in English, Dutch and Danish and can be downloaded and used free of charge 'in any non-commercial context' from the Web, at:

http://www.fontys.nl/impact/

Source: El pub

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