My research program focuses on the successful integration of Assistive Technology Devices into the lives of older adults with Dual Sensory Impairment (combined age-related vision and hearing loss) by studying the interconnected rehabilitation process between clients and clinicians when using assistive technologies. Hearing and vision devices are intended to facilitate an individual's functional abilities; however, they are designed with only one impairment in mind (e.g. persons with dual sensory loss are unable to see the controls on their hearing device or to hear voice commands given by their vision device).
The goal of my research is to define the barriers that are created by the combined effect of vision and hearing loss, investigate how they interfere with the usability of assistive technologies, and study how clinicians can be better equipped to assist clients in overcoming these obstacles. The results will improve the clients' independence, quality of life and their ability to age in place.
Eventually, my research will help to reduce assistive device abandonment, as well as facilitate client empowerment through rehabilitation interventions. Ultimately, this research framework is open to the investigation of other health conditions and their relevant technologies. My research program is built on three ongoing already funded studies, each addressing different aspects of the relationship between clients and clinicians, and their interaction with assistive technologies. Study 1 examines device interfaces and the clients' perception of their usability. Study 2 addresses the non-use of assistive devices by examining stereotypes, stigma and prejudice, as they are perpetuated through the media, through pre-conceived notions of clinician, and through the perceptions of novice and experienced device users themselves. Study 3 focuses on the clinicians' training environment with regard to combined vision and hearing loss rehabilitation and the use of assistive devices, with specific focus on occupational therapists.