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J Rehabil Res Dev. 1990 Fall;27(4):425-36.

Toward the development of consumer-based criteria for the evaluation of assistive devices.

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  • 1National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rehabilitation Engineering Center, Washington, DC 20010.


The most important basis for evaluating an assistive device is whether it satisfies the needs of the disabled consumer. However, the factors that consumers consider in determining whether a device meets their needs are not well understood. This preliminary study applied a small focus group process to identify and prioritize factors used by long-term users of assistive technology in assessing their devices. A modified version of the Delphi Method was applied to two groups of long-term users--a Panel of Consumer Experts with Mobility Impairments and a Panel of Consumer Experts with Sensory Impairments. In total, the panels identified and prioritized 17 general factors for 11 types of assistive technologies. This study constitutes an initial step toward the development of design, engineering, and selection criteria based on the specific concerns of consumers.

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