Fostering Independence, Participation, and Healthy Aging Through Technology - Workshop Summary


Note: Proceedings contain the opinion of the presenters, but do NOT reflect the conclusions of the Health and Medicine Division or the National Academies. Learn more about the differences between Reports and Proceedings.

The 1991 IOM report Disability in America stated that individuals with “functional limitations are not inherently disabled, that is, incapable of carrying out their personal, familial, and social responsibilities. It is the interaction of their physical or mental limitations with social and environmental factors that determines whether they have a disability.” An increasingly important aspect of the “social and environmental factors” that determine whether an individual has a disability is the technology to which that person has access. Technology-driven assistive and adaptive products have improved functioning and quality of life for people of all ages. Furthermore, there is great potential for technology to increase a person’s disability-free years.

To explore this potential, the IOM-National Research Council Forum on Aging, Disability, and Independence held a workshop on December 19, 2012. The workshop examined the ways in which technology can foster independence and healthy aging among working-age individuals with disabilities and among individuals who are developing disabilities while they age. This document summarizes the workshop.