Assistive Technology Consumer Feedback – Prototype of a Web Based System

Kathy L. Rust, MS, OT, Roger O. Smith, Ph.D., OT, FAOTA, and Randy Will, BSE


This paper presents the GOT-IT Project prototype that addresses the need of consumers to obtain assistive device product feedback, real-time, as they need it.  Funded by the UWM Research Grant Initiative, our prototype demonstrates the efficacy of a web-based consumer feedback system reporting ratings of bathroom equipment.  This prototype serves as the basis for expanding its implementation to additional types of devices as we generate quantifiable feedback data based on this initial research. As background to the presentation, the state of AT outcomes research is reviewed to appreciate the tremendous lag between current research and meaningful information for the consumer.  The system’s development process is reviewed, the theoretical basis of questions and initial data collection results are presented.  Feedback from assistive technology users and service professionals such as RESNA attendees are desirable to enhance the iterative development of the system.


Assistive technology outcomes; consumer feedback

Statement of the Problem/Background/Purpose

NIDRR has recognized the centrality of consumers in AT issues by funding multiple community DRPPs.  These projects have extensively studied consumer needs and have worked diligently to provide consumers with information about AT (web-based and local “try-out” centers), access to AT, and assistance with funding.  However, none of these projects have attempted to collate and report consumer feedback. The NIDRR funded ABLEDATA device database has attempted to meet this need through a passive product comment area on the website.  It has been not been populated and has very little assessment structure, so it cannot easily compare devices. Based on careful theoretical design and empirically derived data collection structures, the GOT-IT website prototype presents a dynamic system for consumers to rate equipment and review the feedback of others.

Current Technology/Current Methods

Following an extensive review of AT outcomes websites it is apparent that there is a paucity of consumer feedback information about ATD’s available on the web, and what is out there is limited by the type of equipment (mobility) and type of impairment (SCI). The fact that these sites exist speaks to the need for this information, and the numbers of subscribers to the “wheelchair junkie” bulletin board is impressive. This web-based reporting methodology will fill a major void, as similar mainstream efforts do not reach the needs of consumers with disabilities.  Additionally, innovative data collection fields enhance the meaning and usability of summative results on products and serve as a model for other ATO research.

Design and Development/Approach/Solutions Considered

Three significant consumer database design strategies are based on our previous research and guide our selection of content for consumer feedback: 1) We are not looking at whether someone likes a product (or services), our questions are structured towards reporting on the performance of the product; 2) Our reporting mechanism includes services as well as products; and, 3) We utilize and continue to develop our Isolating the Impact of Interventions (I3) instrumentation to evaluate the performance of AT within the context of concurrent interventions. 

A significant confound in AT outcomes research occurs when AT effectiveness is evaluated without consideration of the services.  An individual may have an excellent piece of equipment that is not used or does not meet the expectation/needs of the consumer because he or she may not have received adequate instruction on how to set it up, use it, maintain it, or fix it.  Another confound occurs when AT outcomes are not considered within the context of concurrent interventions.  For example, an individual may use a piece of AT on a temporary basis as they are receiving therapy to ameliorate there symptoms.  Or a person may have adaptive equipment to help them dress, but prefer to have their spouse help them when the spouse is available.  Our I3 instrumentation recognizes and quantifies this performance.

The prototype instrument uses an iterative development process, moving forward with all project development components concurrently:

  1. question development,
  2. interface design,
  3. reporting and visualization tools,
  4. usability testing, (alpha & beta),
  5. accessibility testing.

Results of this process as initiated with local consumers will be explained.

Implications/Next Steps

The GOT-IT Project elevates the voice of the consumer in the provision of AT devices, services, and outcomes.  As a prototype, limited to bathroom AT, our current instrumentation will be used as the basis for seeking additional resources to expand the products available for feedback with a national distribution of consumers.  The RESNA audience is an important source of feedback of our efforts as we take on this complex and long overdue need.


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Jutai, J et al. (1996). Outcomes measurement of assistive technologies: An institutional case study. Assistive Technology, 8, 110-120.

Smith, RO (2005). Integrated Multi-Intervention Paradigm for Assessment and Application of Concurrent Treatments (IMPACT2) Model, from

Fennema-Jansen, S, et al. (2005). Isolating the contribution of AT to school progress. Proceedings of the RESNA 28th International Conference on Technology and Disability, Atlanta, GA.

Johnson, RJ (2006). The impact of AT devices and services on DVR goal achievement. Unpublished Masters thesis, UWM, Milwaukee.


The GOT-IT Project is supported in part by the Research Growth Initiative of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The opinions contained in this publication are those of the grantee and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Wisconsin.

Contact Information

Kathy Rust
R2D2 Center, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Enderis Hall 135
PO Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201