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User Needs Survey

Mueller, James BID, MA; Jones, Michael , PhD
Project title: 
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Mobile Wireless Technologies for Persons with Disabilities
Project Number: 
Tool type: 
Tool class: 
Nonengineering tool
Disability targeted: 
All disabilities
Study target: 
People with disabilities who are users of wireless technology
Study purpose or goal: 
To identify what makes wireless products useful and usable and what can be improved
Who administers this tool?: 
Ease of use: 
Time to complete: 
~20 minutes
Skills needed: 
The most sensitive issues relate to functional characteristics and chronic conditions.
Equipment required: 
None. The survey is available online and in paper formats
Are any approvals required?: 
The survey received IRB approval
How is it administered?: 
The survey was offered online and on paper. Respondents were invited to participate in Network and contact info was collected. A form for focus group included all rights as participants. Sessions were taped, transcribed, then tapes were erased. No names are recorded for notes.
Development background: 
Development of the User Needs Survey included literature and database review for studies about what information is available statistically on people with disabilities in general and wireless technology use by people with disabilities specifically
Development methodology: 
Questions and methodology were selected based on ICIDH-2, NHIS, and SIPP, existing surveys of technology, and functional questions.
Outside consultation: 
Consultations were made with researchers from the RERC on Aging and the Brain Injury Association of America regarding their data collection with the goal of modeling the User Need Survey to complement their data
Consumer input: 
The survey was designed internally and then reviewed by an advisory board and people with disabilities in the community. Modifications were made based on the feedback received
Researchers oversampled some populations (TBI, SCI, MS, Stroke, visual impairments).
Respondents tend to be more educated and have higher income levels
The survey asks a lot of questions and some categories get very small (who bought phone X and had a problem, maybe 3, which may not be statistically significant).
Data analysis has progressed to the development of a query tool to let users search and analyze the data on their own. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were used to capsulize the data into "personas:" profiles of users with differing needs who typify the user experience. Researchers asked functional questions first, function may go across disability. The data gathered shows that the penetration of cell phones is as deep in the disability community as into the community at large.
Cellphones may be a lifeline and people with disabilties will put up with problems
Impact of these findings on the field: 
Manufacturers can look at the data for information about how wireless products can better serve their customer with disabilities. Researchers found many product interface difficulties among users with disabilities. Why? What can be changed? Focus groups are explanatory. The resulting data will encourage designers to think about incorporating people with disabilities among target markets. Marketing and product planners will see people with disabilities as an important population and see the ease of designing for this population. Designers and managers will recognize personas as real people and will adopt them in the design and marketing processes
Peer review status: 
Publication is pending in the journal Assistive Technology
Who uses the collected data?: 
Researchers. Consumers. Manufacturers, product designers with the caveat that some data fields are small
Is this tool available free of charge?: 
Tool contact: 
Lynzee Head