Assistive technology for persons with profound intellectual disability: A European survey on attitudes and beliefs

Sara Nijs*, Bea Maes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)



Persons with profound intellectual disability (PID) are mostly not able to use assistive technology (AT) independently. Caregivers play an important mediating role in implementing AT in the daily life of persons with PID. Both first-order barriers, extrinsic to caregivers, and second-order barriers, intrinsic to caregivers, influence the attitudes and behaviors of caregivers with regard to AT-use. It could be asked if increased knowledge on and experience with AT may impact the effect of first- and second-order barriers. This study investigated how knowledge and experience influence the professional caregivers’ beliefs about which factors may impact the AT use in persons with PID and their intentions to use AT for persons with PID. 


A questionnaire on the experienced limitations and successes in using AT was developed. The questionnaire was send to professionals working with or responsible for persons with PID in various countries in Europe. In total the answers of 195 respondents were included in this study. 

Results and conclusions: 

This study’s results demonstrate that AT is used for various reasons in persons with PID, mostly to support communication and interaction or for fun or relaxation. Based on the answers of the respondents can be concluded that both experience and knowledge of caregivers seem to influence first- and second-order barriers. Besides, a possibility to overcome the second-order barriers is to provide professionals with possibilities to increase their knowledge and experience.

Implications for rehabilitation: 

At for persons with PID is mostly used for communication and interaction or for fun and relaxation. Professional caregivers belief that AT-use may positively influence various aspects in the life of persons with PID, especially communication and interaction, active engagement and participation in activities, and self-esteem of the person. Caregivers need to have sufficient experience in order to rate the barriers of AT-use as less limited in the group of persons with PID. In order to overcome the barriers experienced in implementing AT in persons with PID, knowledge of caregivers is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-504
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Assistive technology
  • profound intellectual disability
  • survey research
  • beliefs
  • knowledge
  • experience


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