An ontological framework for assisting people with disabilities in organisations

Ulman, Michael (2022) An ontological framework for assisting people with disabilities in organisations. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


The aim of this thesis was to construct an ontological framework - the OntoCarer Ontological Framework, that is used in a software application to create an assistive social network for organisations and agents, which identifies the need for assistance for those with disabilities intending but unable to perform those actions, and searches for their assisters, and then directs and provides the relevant assistance to satisfy those intentions. This Ontological Framework was constructed using the languages of the Semantic Web including OWL and RDF. The agents involved were construed as BDI agents.

The reason for constructing such an ontological framework and software application was that there was a gap in existing BDI theory whereby agents were expected to implement their own intentions. In the case of persons with disabilities this may not be the case, for them disability can mean an impairment of agency that requires assistance if the intention is to be fulfilled. To fulfil the aims of the project and thesis meant extending BDI theory to include people with disabilities, and creating Semantic Web representations of BDI concepts and creating a BDI software agent - the Organisation Agent that could act as intermediary between the assisted and assisters in an organisation, communicating via mobile phones. The Organisation Agent is able to identify when an action becomes an intention and whether the action is impaired so needing assistance, and if it does need assistance to find the assisting actions from those available, then select the optimal assister and its agent and direct it to the assisted agent. This is the OntoCarer Assistance Lifecycle. To do this it depends upon the OntoCarer Ontological Framework which are seven top-level OWL ontologies: Agent, Social Action, Body Components, Body Abilities, Organisation, Buildings, and OntoCarerLink-Ontology. The Framework is also compatible with the WHO ICF classifications. The OntoCarer-Link-Ontology is an ontology of properties used to link the assisted actions with the assister actions, and so create an assistive social network for an organisation. A methodology - the OntoCarer Ontological Framework Methodology was defined to construct the top-level ontologies, the domain ontology extensions for the Education domain, and an RDF model of a simulated college. A Java software application was created that implemented the Organisation Agent with a BDI architecture. Scenarios were run on the application to successfully test the execution of the OntoCarer Assistance Lifecycle on the college RDF model in order to validate the Framework.

UlmanMichael_CORRECTED-FINAL-THESIS-for-BRITISH-LIBRARY_2022.pdf - Published Version

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