The Housing Enabler – Integration of a computerised tool in occupational therapy undergraduate teaching

Gunilla Carlsson, Björn Slaug, Arne Johannisson, Agneta Fänge, Susanne Iwarsson

Abstract


For decades, occupational therapists, architects, public planners, and geographers with a specific interest in promoting possibilities for persons with disabilities to participate in society have advocated accessibility and universal design, and the
need for intensified teaching endeavours in this field (Christophersen 2002). The assessment of accessibility problems is an important part of occupational therapists’ everyday practice (Clemson, Roland and Cumming 1992; Fänge 2004), yet research and practice on home environments generally lack sound psychometric measures (Gitlin 2003). In order to develop quality case management of in-house modifications, valid and reliable assessment methods are imperative. Further, in order to arrive at valid analyses in an efficient way, computerised methods are preferable. Virtually all occupational therapy undergraduate teaching around the world comprises courses that include, to some extent, targeting universal design as well as individual housing adaptations. However, to date only a few universities integrate valid and reliable assessment and computerised analysis methods targeting accessibility issues in their curricula, and in addition there is a substantial need for integration and use of systematic methods in current occupational therapy practice.

For more than one decade Iwarsson has engaged in developing assessment instruments and analysis tools for accessibility research, (Iwarsson and Slaug 2001). For five years, teachers involved in undergraduate teaching in occupational therapy at Lund University have engaged in the development of pedagogic strategies to teach on accessibility issues and housing modifications, in close interaction with ongoing development in Iwarsson’s research team. Based on a multi-dimensional assessment instrument and a computerised tool for analysis of housing accessibility problems, the teaching methods have successively been developed. The purpose of this paper is to describe current use of these methods in occupational therapy undergraduate teaching at Lund University, Sweden.

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