Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Using the Internet to Facilitate the Rehabilitation Process

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Using the Internet to Facilitate the Rehabilitation Process

Article excerpt

Since the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988, the value of technology in enhancing the quality of life and employment opportunities for people with disabilities has been undisputed. In addressing the impact of technology on the lives of people with disabilities, Franklin (1991) noted that the technology explosion "has redefined their abilities to successfully learn, work, live, and play in their communities" (p. 6). One type of technology, the computer, has not only enhanced employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities (e.g., Mather, 1994), but serves as an essential component of the management information systems of most rehabilitation agencies (Akrokiasamy, Benshoff, McLean, & Moss, 1992).

An element of computer technology that has not yet become routinely available in all rehabilitation offices is access to the Internet. Budget considerations and articles on the hazards of the Internet (e.g., Hooked online, 1998), ranging from abuse and misuse to addiction, have contributed to this situation. However, the benefits the Internet brings to the rehabilitation process and to professionals and consumers would appear to far outweigh any disadvantages. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to identify the impact of the Internet on the rehabilitation process, as well as some professional and ethical considerations related to its use.

Internet Applications in the Rehabilitation Process

Regardless of setting, the rehabilitation process includes assessment, rehabilitation planning, and service delivery (Jenkins, Patterson, & Szymanski, 1998). The Internet has the potential to greatly enhance the rehabilitation professional's effectiveness and efficiency in all of these areas through immediate access to assorted types of rehabilitation information, e.g., vocational, medical, assessment information, and job readiness tools.

Vocational Information

Resources that become outdated or are often lacking in rehabilitation offices, such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) [13], are immediately available via the Internet. (See Table 1 for all Internet addresses. For ease in reading, the addresses are listed numerically in the text). When a consumer indicates an interest in a specific field, the OOH is an invaluable resource for both consumer and counselor in comparing salary requirements with those anticipated by the consumer, the amount of training required, physical and intellectual capacities, and the future outlook for the proposed vocation. Instead of assigning homework to the consumer and delaying' vocational planning until the information is obtained, an initial on-line review of the OOH by the consumer and professional can prevent some of the "down time" in the vocational exploration process. For example, the consumer who is initially interested in becoming a veterinary assistant will find that (a) the median weekly salary is $290, (b) growth in employment is expected, (c) the work often requires hard physical labor, and (d) the work is often seasonal. Any one of these findings may cause the consumer to look at alternative vocations or indicate a need for further exploration.

Table 1 Internet Addresses

Meta Search Engines

1    Mamma                   http://www.
                            [ 8 search engines]
2    Dogpile                 http://
                          [14 search engines]
3    Inference Find          http://
                            [ 6 search engines]
4    MetaCrawler             http://
                      [ 8 search engines]
5    Metafind                http://
                         [ 5 search engines]

Medical Search Engines

6    Medline       
7    Internet Oracle         http://internetoracle. … 
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