Over the years many guides have been produced to assist those choosing suitable assistive technology for individuals with disabilities. These guides have usually been available in book format and are rarely updated on a regular basis, and if updates are available the user has to pay for the privilege of remaining informed. In recent years there have been efforts to produce information on the Internet. However, this information tends to be presented as little more than an on-line catalogue with brief descriptions of individual items. The information is often disability specific and does not take into account the setting within which it will be used.
It is intended that the NIAD web site will be specifically orientated towards those working, studying and having interest in the Further and Higher Educational sector. The Internet based resource will include information related to Assistive Technology for those with an interest in disabilities. It will be a continually updated web based resource, which is an easily accessible resource for users of the DISinHE Web site. There will be layers of information, which provide extensive choices for those accessing the database via the Internet beginning with basic guidelines that will be refined as the user goes down the various pathways. The guide will link in with other aspects of the services offered by centres around the United Kingdom and other databases that will be designed for and by DISinHE. In addition to these features:
* NIAD wants to provide links between useful combinations of programmes and use its database of information from the lists to highlight positive and negative elements of these combinations.
* NIAD would like to provide interactive reports that can be made up in a way that would prove useful to those working in assessment centres, study skill and learning support units etc.
* The database would give the user instant access to product references, suppliers and where possible up to date costs. The shopping list could be helpful to LEAs checking reports and to students who may wish to have more information about items.
It is essential in these days of inspections and evaluation that those working in the field of assistive and enabling technology are able to show that what is offered is both effective and fit for the purpose for which it has been proposed.
We need to be assured that we have what is termed 'evidence based practice', where interventions are founded on the sound knowledge that they actually work, rather than simply what has always been done or what is the easiest to provide etc. This normally means basing practice on research evidence, although, in the case of enabling technology, expertise is more likely to form the basis of choice.
It is essential that those in the field should be able to share their expertise related to this rapidly changing field. An interactive web site supported by experts in the field holding a knowledge base that can be built upon over the years would assist those new to the field and those wishing to update their own databases of information.
NIAD has developed links within the field of computing and information technology for those with disabilities. The Assistive Technology Centre is a member of the National Federation of Access Centres, has membership with Skill through the University, and many other organisations linked to those with disabilities. Links across the Atlantic have been maintained for several years with individuals and institutions including the DO-IT Program, EASI and Adaptech
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