Sources of information about how to obtain assistive technology: findings from a national survey of persons with disabilities.

A modified discriminant function analysis was performed to determine the interaction between the source of information for assistive technology used by persons with disabilities. In the sample of 1,412 such persons, 901 were found to use some form of assistive technology in their daily lives. Ten distinct sources of information were specified. Respondents were able to mention up to three sources of information for each example of assistive technology used. A total of 930 sources were mentioned. Overall, the most mentioned information source was a physician or other health care professional, accounting for 53% of all sources mentioned. The only other frequently mentioned sources were family and friends (15%) and vocational rehabilitation counselors (13%). We found that physicians and health care professionals provide information to all groups without significant variance–this source of information is clearly nondiscriminant. Respondents who use family and friends as a source of information tend to be older, poorer, unemployed, more severely impaired, non-White, and, most significantly, render a more negative opinion of the amount and utility of information they have received about assistive technology, as well as the helpfulness of assistive technology in general. Persons obtaining information from vocational rehabilitation counselors tend to be better educated, non-White, unemployed, and have a more positive opinion about assistive technology. The limited size of the national population-based sample (n = 1,412) and very low number of responses indicating a state-based agency as the source of information about assistive technology did not allow state-by-state comparisons; alternative approaches, however, suggest a slight decline in the usage of the primary source (physician or other health care professional) with decreasing population, and a larger increase in the usage of family and friends as a source of information.