An online social network as a tool to support people with special needs
Online social networks (OSN) have demonstrated their capacity to change human interaction paradigms; however, their application to disability is a barely-explored field of research. This OSN has been developed by the department Howlab of the University of Zaragoza.
This project includes the design, development and deployment of an OSN in a 24/7 residence for people with disabilities, in order to improve productivity, enhance the quality of care processes and foster social relations. To evaluate it, during fourteen months of operation, 46 people, including caregivers, health professionals (psychologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists, among others), supervisors, administrative staff, residents and their family members, used the OSN. Our quantitative and qualitative results indicate adequate OSN technical performance; validate user-oriented design methodology; confirm productivity and quality of service improvement; and confirm the capacity of OSNs to positively influence social relations in such environments.