Friday, 27 April 2012

Tutorial 8: Assistive Technology

According to the Assistive Technology Act  of 1998, assistive technology is the use of any mechanical item, equipment or product that can be  modified, customised or purchased commercially or privately to improve and increase a disabled individual’s functional abilities (Sabata, Shamberg & Williams, 2008).
I interpret this term to mean anything that can be used by an individual which will increase their ability to participate in occupation as well as their levels of independence in society. Communication devices, wheelchairs, housing modifications and modified knives and forks are all considered different types of assistive technology as they are used in a way that allows their user to communicate, be mobile, shower without physical assistance and to be able to feed themselves independently.  This definition covers a lot more than the types I have mentioned above and can come in many ways shapes and forms.

After doing some research I came across this really great guide for parents whose children may require some form of assistive technology (mainly related to learning and communication).

One piece of assistive technology that I am going to discuss the use of a:
Dynavox Xpress Communicating Device
If you clink on the link (above) this will bring you to the Dynavox website where there is a variety of communication devices linked to a number of conditions such as:

  • Stroke/Aphasia
  • Autism
  • Down Syndrome
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Motor Neurone Disease / Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Apraxia of Speech
The Dynavox Xpress can be used by individuals who have trouble expressing themselves verbally.

Features include:
10.2 X 15.2cm
Weighs between 0.65 and 0.95kg depending on the type of battery
Display screen is 12.7cm across and is touchscreen
Up to 8GB of storage
1 year warranty and can be customised with different DynaSkins
The Dynavox also has a selection of different voices that can be selected for male/female and child/adult ages as well as Loquendo voice application for expressing emotion
Photos, videos and music can also be stored and played at any time
Battery life lasts up to 8 hours with an extended battery
The Dynavox is US$7500 - which is about $9000NZD (Dynavox products range from US$3000 to US$8000)

This particular piece of equipment increases occupational engagement of the user through the communication that it allows and produces. Through the use of this device this individual will be more comfortable about interacting with others themselves instead of having someone communicate on their behalf. This device also allows for social interaction and also a degree of self-expression through the ability this device has to store videos, photographs and MP3 music files. This is another way an individual can increase their independance in interpersonal interactions. 

Below: the Dynavox Xpress allows this man to communicate as it prompts him on what to say making his sentences more fluid and cohesive. This is a review of the device by a user of the product:

Here is a review of a Dynavox product from the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapy website where iranian woman Rabin moved to New Zealand from Iran and recieved a multitude of services and assistive devices, one of these being a Dynavox Communication Device.

Below: A young girl using a Dynavox device to enable her to learn and participate in a reading acitivity with her mother and speech-pathologist. This Dynavox is not the same as the Dynavox Xpress but is a larger device made by the same company.

This device relates to the occupational concept of occupational justice as it allows individuals to participate as equal and valued members of society. Through the use of this communication device individuals can easily express their needs in all sorts of situations with a range of people. The Dynavox allows individuals to have leisure time through the use of record keeping and music storage that is available on the device.  


Sabata, D. B., Shamberg, S. & Williams, M. (2008). Optimising access to home, community and work environments. In M. V. Radomski & C. A. Trombly Latham (Eds.), Occupational therapy for physical dysfunction (6th ed.), (pp. 952-973). Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Tutorial 7: Linking to Blogs of Interest

For the purpose of this task I have searched and Google Reader to find blogs that are of interest to me as an Occupational Therapy student. I have attached a number of OT specific websites, a website about a new graduate Occupational Therapist, a fellow student's blog and a paediatric OT blog which provides viewers with a diverse range of activities to do with children to improve balance, fine motor skills and much more.
I have made comments on different parts of each of these blogs in the hope that the administrators or others can answer my questions.
One communication that I have had as a result of my blog postings is in relation to the use of Equine Therapy for children with autism.

Rachel McCoy: 4 May 2012 02:27pm

Hi Louise,
I was just wondering what do you do in these situations where children are fearful or uncomfortable about getting on the horses and riding them?
I can imagine this would sometimes be a bit of a challenge.

To which the blogger replied:

This is a valid point Rachel. They have a special programme for children who are not comfortable around horses and this is a seperate program from others. The therapists work alongside the childre to overcome these barriers.

Tutorial 6: The Internet and Online Communities

For this tutorial I will outline three different online communities that offer support and networking for people with Depression. In Occupational Therapy Practice, therapists may recommend websites or online support groups that individuals can look at in their free time and where they can write about their experiences, emotions and challenges that they face with their condition.
An article written in The Guardian UK discusses the use of social networking sites for individuals with common experiences of their condition. These groups can create a strong sense of connectedness as individuals can rely on others for support and support others by simply commenting or posting onto forums (Band, 2011).

There are three online communites for Depression that I have found, they are: The Low Down, Reach-Out and Youth Beyond Blue.
The Low Down
The Low Down is a site that is designed for youth with depression to understand what they are experiencing and to find ways to cope with their condition. Information about depression is provided as well as a 'chat' service and a knowledge forum. The Low Down uses a unique method of learning through 'Navigators' where the user can choose one of five options of navigators: Sonia Grey - TV Presenter, Dave Gibson - Singer, Jane Yee - TV Presenter and Awa - Singer. These navigators can be selected or another non-audio option can be chosen to. By clicking on the navigator the user is introduced to the site and is given insight onto their navigators experience of depression. Users can contribute primarily through the use of the 'chat' toolbar. Self-help tests and the use of music are other features of the site that contribute to user interaction.

This is an Australian online community with the purpose of connecting and supporting individuals with 'depression' or 'depressed moods'. The user interaction of the site is enabled through the task bar at the top of the page which highlights areas for facts, forum, ReachOut blog, videos, SMS Usage of the site and how to get involved. The site also offers downloads of fact sheets for viewers to download and print if they wish. The site can also be accessed through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This increases the accessibility and usability of the site as these are common networking sites that are used by a large amount of people. Individuals can contribute anonymously on this site by commenting on the blog or posts made by the administrator as well as creating their own forums and communicating with administrators and other users of the service. Topics that can be discussed on the forums are mental health, alcohol and drug use, family and relationships, independance, grief and much more. People may contribute their own problems for others to give advice on or they may offer advice to others who may be experiencing emotions or situations similar to that of the individual themselves. The site is also used to provide information on depression and life stressors in an informal way where the users can select and comment on areas that are of interest to them.

Youth Beyond Blue
This is another site that focusses on the effect that depression and anxiety have on young people. The site is interactive as it presents information in a variety of ways on the main home page. There is a diverse amount of information that is presented in the form of Vlogs, videos and stories as well as an 'On The Radar' section which is constantly changing to different headlines. As Youth Beyond Blue is specifically for youth, there is an area designated for parents or carers to refer to. The site provides factual information about depression and anxiety as well as giving the users to opportunity to 'Get Help' and 'Help Someone Else'. Similar to previous sites, users can contribute to the site by sharing their story in a video, a streaming Vlog or in a written paragraph about themselves by clicking on the 'Share Your Story' icon. People can contribute their own experiences, advice for others problems or challenges as well as parents or carers being able to ask questions on behalf of their child.
It is my belief that individuals are more willing to contribute to these online communities because it is anonymous and questions may be easier to ask online that face to face with a family member or health professional. The appeal of these sites is also increased due to the information that is shared can be commented on and discussed by others who are perhaps going through a similar experience to the user. In this respect, the advice and comments of others who have had mental illness are of greater importance and significance that that of a health professional or family member who cannot relate to the way this individual is feeling.
Individuals that use these online resources are seeking information and connection to others. Of course, this completley depends on the individuals experience of their mental illness and what areas they feel that these online communities can offer them. These sites also offer a place for these people to express their feelings in an environment where they will not be judged by others. Individuals may also be seeking connection to others and networking opportunities by talking with other depression sufferers on these sites.
Information on these sites can be shared one-way if information is presented in a way so that the user cannot interact with it fully and voice their thoughts and opinions on the discussed topics. This is more common in the information components of the sites where information is arranged in a way that is informative and useful but does not have any reciprocal properties. In discussion and chat forums information is reciprocal as the user can contribute their opinions or experiences and will recieve some feedback or comment from administrators or other users.

These chosen sites relate to a number of occupational concepts such as occupational adaptation and occupational justice. According to Christiansen & Townsend (2010), occupational adaptation is the changes that occur in the method or tools that enable occupation in order for an individual to maintain participation within groups and communities. These sites relate to this concept as the mechanism for communication has changed through the use of these websites and the forums but these individuals are still engaging in a form of social interaction and recieving social and emotional supports through these. Occupational justice refers to the resources that are available for one to satisfy personal needs and citizenship through occupation (Christiansen & Townsend, 2010). Through the use of the sites, individuals are meeting their need for personal interaction and communication. They are valued consumers of the service and their needs can be expresses through the discussion and chat forums where they are offered support and advice from others.

Band, E. (2011). Social networking can lighten the darkness of depression. Retrieved on 27/04/12 from:

Christiansen, C. H., & Townsend, E. A. (2010). Introduction to occupation: The art and science of living (2nd ed.). USA: Pearson Education

 Image sourced from:

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Tutorial 5: Video Production Sessions

This post will discuss a chosen topic of interest with Occupational Therapy practice and how it is represented using a range of online videos.

My chosen topic of interest is the progressive neurological disorder of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The videos that I have posted below provide personal experiences of MS as well as how Occupational Therapy can assist and help an individual manage with this disorder both physically and mentally. The other videos will provide education on MS and how it affects the human body as well as another video which will highlight a number of communities that sufferers of MS can relate to and connect with.

The video below identifies the process of the Multiple Sclerosis conditon in an understandable manner that can be used as an education tool for clients. The video illustrates the disease process and how different areas of functioning are affected by the disease.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has provided a number of videos on MS and other people's experiences and insights. This video is about MS Learn Online: Personal Insights and Tools for Coping.

The video below provides the viewer with information regarding the role of the Occupational Therapist in assisting individuals with MS to complete everyday activities such as household tasks, self-care activities and leisure activities that the person may be finding difficult due to their disease.

Below is a video that shows more specific Occupational Therapy interventions that people with MS may experience. Gary provides the viewer with an individualised perspective on his experience of OT  treatment for his condition.

The cause of MS can be a topic of importance for sufferers to be aware of as well as therapists. It is important to acknowledge that there is no known cause but that there is a number of hypotheses about the etiology of the disease. This video provides an easy to understand overview of the potential causes of MS.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Tutorial 4: Video Production Sessions

Occupational Transition: Dunedin

The task set was to produce a one-minute video on occupational justice, occupational disruption, occupational transition or occupational deprivation. This group selected occupational transition. We all felt we had similar transitions from our lives in our home-towns to living in Dunedin and attending Polytechnic. We talked about how we could represent our ‘big move’ to the student city and came up with a couple of ideas that would incorporate all of our transitions under the umbrella theme of ‘occupational transition’ but each in our own way. We decided to film each other holding two pieces of paper. The first piece of paper that would be seen would a sentence or phrase that would represent something that we experienced before we came to Dunedin and the second piece would be a sentence or phrase that would represent what we experience now as students or as flatmates or tenants.

Film Name: Occupational Transition to Dunedin

The concept of Occupational Transition is based around the idea that as an individual moves through the different stages of their lives they shift from occupations that they would participate in previously to alternate ones that are part of their new life-stage or lifestyle (Rodger, 2010). Occupational transitions occur as a result of developmental change such as aging or can occur as a response to a particular life event (Rodger, 2010).  These transitions occur at individual, group and societal levels but for the purpose of this video we have focussed on occupational transition at an individual level as a result of developmental change. Participants in this video have experienced occupational transition in moving to live in Dunedin to study in the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy programme. This occupational transition has occurred because these young women have completed schooling at the age of 18 and then all moved to further their tertiary education in Dunedin.
The posters read:
Occupational transition
Transition through life stages
Warm house  - Damp Flat
Alternative Steiner School - Mainstream Tertiary ‘Tech
Country Bumpkin - Big City…. Hello
Mum made my lunch - I make my lunch now
Adventure Capital - Scarfie Land
The End

Rodger, S. (2010). Occupation-centred practice with children: A practical guide for occupational therapists. United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Tutorial 2: Occupational Engagment, Doing, Being, Becoming and Belonging

Making a Cup of Tea
(Click on the link above to view Slideshow)

I chose the occupation of tea-making because it is a common place task that individuals engage in in the workplace, at home or out with friends. Tea-making can be a way of caring for others and is primarily a domestic task. I have been involved in tea-making on a Fieldwork placement where patients or clients are asked to complete a tea assessment for the Occupational Therapist to assess safety and the client's ability to carry out a task. In Humanities for Occupational Therapy making a cup of tea is an activity of value for its familiarity, social interaction and therapeutic qualities.

The terms doing, being, becoming and belonging are central concerns of the Occupational Therapy profession as they are terms that relate to both occupation and human experience (Rowles, 1991). Rowles (1991) states that ‘doing’ contributes to an individual’s self-worth through occupational performance. Doing stimulates, entertains and occupies time and is a powerful determinant of well-being and self-worth (Wilcock, 1998b). Being is when one is self-reflective, introspective or values the presence of others. Belonging occurs when an individual experiences social support, friendship and a feeling of inclusion which then lead to greater life satisfaction and fulfilment (Hammel,2004). Becoming is the idea of being able to imagine a future self and who or what they wish to become later in their lives (Hammel, 2004). Becoming also incorporates ideas of self-perception and the ability of an individual to control their environment.

The images chosen in the PowerPoint reflect these concepts. ‘Doing’ is seen in the images of the process of tea making, from the selection of the type of tea to the pouring and the drinking of this beverage. Tea drinking is purposeful and goal-orientated as it has an end point where the individual can sit down and enjoy what they have created. ‘Being’ is seen in the images where tea drinkers appreciate being with valued people. ‘Becoming’ is achieved in the self-value that is created through the successful making of tea and the belief that the individual creates in their own abilities. ‘Belonging’ is evident in the images where individuals drink tea together creating social interaction and inclusion.

Ethical considerations I have made in relation to these images are mentioning where my images are sourced (as evident in the end slide of the PowerPoint). I have stated which images I have taken on my own camera and which ones I have sourced from the internet. I have informed consent from the owner of the kitchen and furnishings which I have taken images of and the owner is aware that these images are to be placed on both the SlideShare website as well as Additionally, I have included information about experiences that I had on placement but I have maintained privacy by not mentioning the location or the name of where this placement was.


Wilcock, A.A. (1998b).  Reflections on doing, being becoming.  Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 248-256.

Hammell, K.W. (2004). Dimensions of meaning in the occupations of daily life.  Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71 (5).

Rowels, G.D. (1991). Beyond performance: Being in place as a component of occupational therapy.  American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 45, 265-271.

Tutorial 1: Information Technology and Ethical Issues

The focus of this first posting is to analyse what information technology (IT) actually is and ethical issues that arise when we use technologies that can be viewed by almost anyone using the internet. Allen (2004) defines information technology as electronic processing, retrieving, storing and sending information via computers, telecommunication and other such devices. To me, information technology is any form of technology that allows communication and information sharing among online communities and personal contacts.

We use information technology in everyday life. Information technology has become increasingly commonplace as we continue to increase our use of information technology through a range of devices such as laptops, iPads and cellphones. The portable, accessible nature of this technology makes it very versatile and usable in a multitude of environments. Blogging, YouTubing and Facebooking are a few of the many ways we interact with this technology.

(Above:) A video that illustrates the dramatic increase and frequency of the use of Information Technology in our day to day lives. The change in communication, information processing and interpersonal interactions.
I am very comfortable using IT as I use a number of different IT technologies on a day-to-day basis. I am required to use Moodle for my tertiary studies, two different emailing websites for both academic and personal reasons, as well as researching databases for assignments and posting onto my own Facebook account. I use IT such as Facebook and Skype to engage in occupations that I see as personally significant. Facebook allows me to connect with both friends and family who live near me and overseas. Facebook is an important social interaction tool and I enjoy being able to 'chat' to friends and family using Wireless internet, my mobile phone or my laptop. Using Skype has also become a meaningful activity for me as I see Skype as a tool that allows me to interact with others for no cost and with 'live' video.
Within Occupational Therapy practice, IT is commonly used to enhance an individual's ability to participate in Occupation through use of IT tools such as iPads and Wii devices. Occupational Therapists use technology to assist individuals with activities that have personal, leisure or productivity significance. Technology such as iPads for sight impaired users, assistive technology, patient databases and wheelchairs with installed Bluetooth or Wireless controls all contribute to the expanding equipment industry that Occupational Therapists can draw resources from. Issues surrounding the use of IT in healthcare systems and Occupational Therapy practice can include copyright concerns, the use of patient information and issues surrounding informed consent.

Below: The video below illustrates one of the many ways that iPad Applications can assist in communication and learning for autistic children as incorporated into their Occupational Therapy and Speech Language therapy sessions.

To enable occupation, an understanding of IT is invaluable as leisure and work-related activities are increasingly reliant on the use of technology such as Facebook, Skype, Word-Processing, Powerpoint presentations and Blogging. For therapists, personal activities such as money management, internet banking, transport arrangement and online shopping can all be enabled through the use of IT which can provide a potentially simpler, more efficient way to communicate, manage finances and participate in occupations that we could not without this technology.
Ethical implications that can arise from information transfer across IT systems can be issues of privacy, individuals not giving conformed consent, greased information and varying levels of accessibility. Miscommunications across IT devices can also cause conflict amongst work collegues or peer groups. Issues of social justice can also be raised when technology that is created cannot be used equally amongst the population (Wisegeek, 2012). An example of lack of social justice is visually impaired individuals who are inhibited in their use of an IT due to the font size or level of contrast on the website.

Allen, R. (2004). The penguin english dictionary. London: Penguin Books.
Wisegeek. (2012). What is social justice? Retrieved on 09/03/2012 from:
TED Conferences. (2010). Kevin Kelly tells technology's epic story. Retrieved on 09/03/2012 from:
YouTube. (2011). Dexteria fine motor skill app. Retrieved on 09/03/2012 from:

Image of 'The new iPad' Retrieved on 09/03/2012 from: