Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Sauer, A. L., Parks, A., & Heyn, P. C. (2010). Assistive technology effects on the employment outcomes for people with cognitive disabilities: A systematic review. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 5 (6), 377-391.
Title:  Assistive technology effects on the employment outcomes for people with cognitive disabilities: A systematic review
Authors:  Sauer, A. L., Parks, A., & Heyn, P. C.
Year:  2010
Journal/Publication:  Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Publisher:  Informa UK Ltd.
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Systematic review / meta-analysis

Structured abstract:

Background:  At the time this article was written, a Google search revealed over 170,000 vendors of assistive technology devices and tools. However, evidenced based interventions are not well documented. Professionals may have a difficult time determining which products work versus those that do not. A better understanding about the effectiveness of various types of assistive technology could influence and improve employment outcomes.
Purpose:  The aim of this study was to explore the use of assistive technology in the workplace among individuals with cognitive disabilities.
Setting:  This is a review of literature.
Study sample:  Nine studies were included in the systematic review. This led to a sample size of 358 with 154 subjects using assistive technology. Of the 154, 40 were involved in quasi-experimental studies and 114 took part in a survey where they reported on mental limitation and used assistive technology as a workplace accommodation. The disability inclusion criteria for this study included: cognitive disabilities, developmental disabilities, IQ in the moderate to severe range, intellectual disabilities, Autism and Down Syndrome. Individuals with visual impairments, deaf and hard of hearing , traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury were excluded.
Data collection and analysis:  Single term and combined term searches yielded a total of 74,045 searches. From that group 369 searches were retrieved that included variations of the search terms: AT, cognitive disability and employment. This led to 20 searches that met the criteria based on title and abstract. From there duplicates were removed.; leaving 17 full text articles and 5 from secondary source. This result was a total of 22 articles for review. Additional review identified 9 articles that met the researchers initial critieria. Next, crtieria was added to exclude articles that only provided secondary data or 7 articles. Two additional articles were found via reference search that met the inclusion critieria. The final result was the identification of 9 articles to include in the review.
Findings:  The studies reviewed revealed that using assistive technology assisted individuals with being more successful at work. For example, 83% of the articles looked at accuracy, 63% reported on accuracy and 38% studied generalization. Higher pay was not reported in the articles. Employer satisfaction and employee satisfaction with the use of assistive technology were both reported in 38% and 38% of articles, respectively. Cuing systems, as a means to deliver prompts (i.e. task analysis on picture cards, verbal cue on a tape player and computer aided devices that combined a variety of visual and auditory cues, were effective in teaching individuals in both educational and vocational settings. No significant difference in levels of accuracy or independence between the use of low and high tech devices were noted. However, among the articles that compared the two, findings indicated subjects completed work tasks up to 50% faster using the high tech devices.
Conclusions:  Assistive technology cuing systems can assist individuals in the workplace by increasing independence, job completion and accuracy. Cuing systems can also help individuals generalize job skills to other tasks and settings. Low and high tech cuing systems should be introduced in school settings to support students with cognitive disabilities as they transition to employment and postsecondary education. More research is needed.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Cognitive / intellectual impairment
Developmental disabilities
Down syndrome
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
Older workers (55+)
Interventions:  Assistive technology
Outcomes:  Other