REMOTE SERVICE OF REHABILITATION TECHNOLOGY
The RESORT project has demonstrated the feasibility of remotely supporting rehabilitation technology (RT) applications over the Internet. Synchronisation of the application at both ends, in a manner that allows the centre to know the state of the client application at a given time, is a pre-requisite for remote support provision. This pre-requisite has two primary implications. First, RT applications typically use serial presentation of options that are selected by a single switch device. Consequently, the delay in synchronisation cannot exceed 100 milliseconds (a reasonable estimate of human response time). This requirement precludes the use of application sharing. Second, the applications must be similarly configured. For example, if the second button on the top row turns on the client radio, it must have similar functionality at the centre. In addition to facilitating these two forms of synchronisation, RESORT provided a support framework that allows clients to contact, communicate and exchange control with the service centre. Although the primary motivation of the developing partners is improved support for RT applications, the system does have more general applications. Current "RESORTable"” applications are PC based, but the system is designed to be portable both to other platforms and devices. The RESORT user-interface and database software are entirely written in Java. The user-interfaces are built with the Swing classes. Therefore they have good accessibility support. The system uses the Java Native Interface (JNI) to communicate with a native dynamically linked library (DLL) that implements the RESORT RCI. This DLL must be included in "RESORTable" applications. Remote communication is implemented using Java RMI (Remote Method Invocation). User profiles are stored in a relational database, while preferences are stored in local databases. The system includes software to access and maintain this data. A module is provided to support audio-visual communication and application sharing when required.
Step by Step 3 (Mr. Step) is the working title for the overall redesign of Step by Step 2.0 which is a learning and training software package for handicapped children and children with (severe) learning difficulties in pre-school and first stages of primary school age. The inclusion of motor impaired children is one of the most important goals and therefore the possibility of single switch input is provided in a large extent of available training modules. In the framework of the RESORT project Step by Step 3 has been made RESORTable; a prototype is now available and has been demonstrated. The focus of content lies on visual/acoustic perception and cognition and the easiest training modules cover very early stages of development (cause and effect etc.). The interaction with the included learning material shall be realised in an active and playful way. Nevertheless one further important feature of Step by Step 3 is that the user interfaces are very simple and do not include a lot of animations (which often distract children with mental handicaps or learning difficulties). The pedagogical basis of Step by Step 3 is formed by the developmental theory of Jean Piaget. Training chains or sessions consisting of training modules referring to developmental blocks in logical order can be created and assigned to a specific child. The training modules themselves can be configured to a very high extent (change of parameters and multimedia material) to meet the specific needs of a child. A database with multimedia material specially designed for usage in learning and training is included in the software package. Step by Step 3 is designed for case therapy, special schools, integration classes and primary school classes (for specific training of children with learning difficulties). In the framework of the RESORT Project a Remote Control Interface (RCI) has been built in and Step by Step 3 is now able to be remotely supported. Step by Step 3 offers the possibility of launching RESORT calls from inside the RT application and the synchronisation of games has been built in some of the modules.
The REACT project has developed a script-based augmentative communication system for disabled people who are unable to speak. The system, called ScripTalker, provides a solution for interactive personal communication in the form of a portable, user-friendly system with script structures which enable it to predict user needs during interaction, and thus assist the user to assert control over the interaction (a fundamental objective of augmentative communication). The system has a unique interface, based on a pictorial representation of the scenes in which each script will operate. This interface will make it easier for all users, and in particular, those with literacy problems. ScripTalker combines the advantage of a symbol based interactive and intuitive user interface with a text-based input. A tool, called ScriptAuthor, has also been developed which will allow the user to create and exchange new scripts. The outcome of this project is an entirely new software system which provides wider communication capabilities for non-speaking people. It has been developed applying the most recent findings from the field of Human-Computer Interaction. Currently, such systems allow users to create messages word-by-word, or letter-by-letter, which results in extremely slow rates of communication and reduced effectiveness. Effective and usable ways of speaking with entire utterances are a desirable goal of developments in this field. The ScripTalker system answers this need by the innovative application of script-based communication combined with an easy-to-use pictorial interface for navigating through the scripts. The system can be adapted to the user's requirements, including the creation of entirely new scripts using the ScriptAuthor tool. The system can output speech through any standard speech synthesiser.
RESORTable AUTONOMY (AAC and ECS for profoundly disabled persons with integrated remote support via IP based on RESORT API)
AUTONOMY is an AAC and ECS system for motor and multiple impaired persons. It assists disabled persons in the areas of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC), Environmental Control (ECS), access to standard PC, safety and security functions. The system consists of a multimedia PC, the AUTONOMY software package (running under MS-Windows 9x, ME, XP), a speech synthesiser, the input adapter hardware for special input devices and the environmental control hardware. All hardware devices (input adapter and ECS hardware) are connected to the PC via a serial port (e.g. Com1). Peripheral hardware can be based on a field bus system or a commercially available infrared teach-in sampler. Additionally control of standard PCs or Mac is feasible using the SerialKey defacto standard for mouse and keyboard emulation. The software also consists of a multimedia library of sounds (*.wav) and graphics (*.bmp, *.wmf) and a library of configuration database files. Since 1999 a commercial version of the AUTONOMY system is available. In parallel, there is an ongoing improvement of the research version of the AUTONOMY system according to the user feedback. In the RESORT project, the Interface DLL has been embedded in the software, enabling it to be remotely controlled. This "RESORTed" version of the software has been tested in real life tests as a prototype application and is now (2002) commercially available as part of t he AUTONOMY system. RESORTable AUTONOMY is a software product, which allows to receive/give Remote Support from/to other AUTONOMY users or a RESORT Service Centre. The RESORTability can be seen as an add-on which also can be added to already existing installation of the (commercial) AUTONOMY system. - Call Control from inside the AUTONOMY software applications; - Automatic synchronisation of media files and configurations databases; - Student/Teacher Mode; - Remote start and remote terminating of software sub modules of AUTONOMY system. The primary functionality of AUTONOMY (alternative and augmentative communication and environmental control for severely and multiple impaired persons) is not influenced directly by the RESORTability. But the overall efficiency and usability of the AUTONOMY system will be increased significantly by introducing the RESORTable version of AUTONOMY to the market. Currently no RT system for AAC and ECS is known which provides such remote service features. The RESORTable AUTONOMY System (Software) does rely on the RESORT Technology. A RESORT Client or Service Centre Software needs to be available. The RESORTability can be activated easily by installing the new Remote Service Driver.