Environmental Factors that Influence Telecommunications Use by Adolescents with Cerebral Palsy
Type of content
Background: Social participation is essential to well-being for adolescents with and without disabilities. Adolescents with a disability, however, often have fewer friendships and experience social isolation compared to their peers without disability. Telecommunications play a vital role in facilitating social participation for adolescents yet those with a disability experience reduced access. Based on the World Health Organisation’s framework of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) this study aimed to identify environmental factors (barriers and facilitators) that impact on participation in telecommunication use, as perceived by adolescents with cerebral palsy and their communication partners. Method: A qualitative research design was adopted using observations and in-depth interviews with five dyads of adolescents with cerebral palsy and significant communication partners. Data from interviews was analysed using qualitative content analysis to identify barriers and facilitators. Results and Conclusions: A total of 66 facilitators and 72 barriers to telecommunication use were identified. These were divided into four categories; people-related, equipment-related, support/training-related and ‘other’. A large number of interrelated people and equipment related factors were identified. Participants also identified the need for further training and support. In order to improve social participation for adolescents with disabilities, future research must investigate the development of assessment tools that accurately identify environmental barriers to telecommunication use and contribute to the development of strategies to over come these barriers.