Narrowing the digital divide--facilitating access to computer technology to enhance the lives of those with aphasia: a feasibility study
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Kelly, H., Kennedy, F., Britton, H., McGuire, G. & Law, J. (2016-03) Narrowing the digital divide--facilitating access to computer technology to enhance the lives of those with aphasia: a feasibility study, Aphasiology, vol. 30, pp. 133-163.
Background: Despite advances in technology and the universal accessibility of the Internet, the aptly named digital divide- still prevents equal access to, and use of, computer technology by people with aphasia. The use of technology has clear potential for improved quality of life in terms of increased methods for communicating as well as the facilitation of self-management; however, substantial barriers still pervade. Aims: The aims of this study were to evaluate a bespoke computer training course appropriate for people with aphasia and examine the personal experiences of a small sample of individuals with aphasia following their participation on the course. Methods & Procedures: This feasibility study with mixed-methods evaluation recruited participants with a range of aphasia severity and different experiences in using computers. Participants (n = 17) discussed their personal experiences of attending the computer course, gathered through topic-guided small focus groups, immediately postcourse and follow-up Refresher class. A Framework Method approach was considered an appropriate methodological design and data were analysed using thematic analysis. Participants also self-rated their skills in using computers before and following this bespoke computer course (n = 16) and at follow-up (n = 10), which was statistically analysed. Outcomes & Results: Statistically significant differences were found in the improved self-rated ability of a range of computer skills following course attendance. However, participants who attended a Refresher class (5, 9, or 12 months following course completion) reported that without support a number of these skills had notably declined. Three main themes emerged from the focus group data: (i) Facilitation of Social Engagement-technology offered new opportunities to communicate and more independently self-manage day-to-day tasks; (ii) Course Framework-participants reflected on their preferred model of delivery of the course; and finally (iii) Overcoming Barriers to Technology-the advantages of bespoke computer training, and requirements for ongoing support were highlighted as essential components of a training course appropriate for people with aphasia. Conclusions: The personal experiences of this group of people with aphasia highlight the advantages of accessing technology as a way of facilitating increased communication and an enhanced ability to manage their day-to-day lives. Yet, despite these benefits and the necessity for many people with aphasia to learn or relearn computer skills, finding courses that can accommodate individual needs is problematic. This research highlights the need for bespoke computer training and follow-on support, and highlights the necessary components of such training as identified by this group of people with aphasia. 2015 Taylor & Francis