Thank you to our Poster Presenters for sharing their research and ideas!
Delphi Study: A Prioritization of Skills to Enhance School-Based Assistive Technology Implementation
This study addresses the dearth of research surrounding assistive technology (AT) knowledge of in-service special educators and school personnel. Through a Delphi study utilizing the existing Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology (QIAT) this study identifies areas of greatest concern to practitioners for future training opportunities. Several areas were identified including the need for clearly defined and consistent AT assessment procedures, ongoing evaluation and data-based decision making of students changing AT needs, administration support related to ongoing learning opportunities, and the need for more professional developments.
Smart Eyewear- Based Authentication for People with Upper Extremity Impairment
In this project, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is partnering with TechACCESS of Rhode Island to collect head movement data using a Google Glass (though this technology is not specific to Google Glass) from several people with various forms of upper extremity impairment. During the enrollment phase, the users are expected to put on the Google Glass and sit still for five two-minute session (As this is a cutting edge area of research the enrollment time is quite long. Future improvements will bring this down substantially.). The head movement data collected during the enrollment phase is processed to extract a ballistocardiogram (BCG) signal, which is a representation of the user’s heart rhythm. This BCG signal is then processed using a deep-learning-based artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, which identifies the unique properties of the user. Once a user is enrolled, they can subsequently be identified within a few seconds of putting on Google Glass.
Future Assistive Technology Practitioners: The Interprofessional Team
NEIT developed a degree program with a focused study in Assistive Technology including 5 AT content specific courses. The culminating project brings students together in interdisciplinary teams to explore new technologies students develop, which could impact the quality of life of people with disabilities across the lifespan. This poster presentation will expose participants to the structure of learning provided to the students in the degree program, with a focus on the culminating Capstone Course. It will allow participants to examine the program of study, discuss the capstone course components, and then critique the products and final presentations completed by the inaugural group of students.
Debra Adams, DPT & Meghan Broz, MS, CCC-SLP, ATP
Engineering AAC into the Modern Home
Communication happens everywhere. Within a home, people communicate with one another for essentially all possible functions – requesting, commenting, arguing, joking, protesting, and more! Communication enables individuals to meet functional needs, achieve independence, and attain social connections with loved ones. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) users require unique support in order to reach an equal level of communication success. This poster presentation will focus on ways to provide such support by naturally embedding AAC tools into a modern home. Using the CT Tech Act sponsored smart home at New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) as a model, the presentation will describe explicit ways to use low-, mid- and high-tech AAC in specific locations around a home. A demonstration of ways to pair AAC with smart home technology will give participants an awareness of the innovative possibilities for supporting independence across the lifespan.
The AT Lemon Law: Consumer Protection for Your AT
Most consumers are unaware of the existence of a Lemon Law for AT (much like the one for cars). When consumers do become aware of the law, it is often too late or they no longer have the proper records to take action. This poster session will be presented in conjunction with RIDLC’s new AT Lemon Law Packet. Both the packet and the poster will provide information about the circumstances under which a device can be considered a lemon, and what steps can be taken to enforce one’s rights under the law. The presentation will also review how one can use the AT Lemon Law Packet to keep the records needed to prove the device is a lemon under the law, and what the best practices are for record-keeping. While the information about the law is specific to Rhode Island, the information about maintaining records and building a case would be useful to someone pursing a case in another state.
Elisabeth K. Hubbard
A Survey to Assess Awareness, Use, and Perceived Effectiveness of Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Autistic Adults
Evidence supports the use of AAC for children on the autism spectrum with complex communication needs. A review of publicly available writing by autistic adults who use AAC indicates significant perceived benefits, including for autistic adults who can speak. However, this review by its nature can not indicate what proportion of adults on the autism spectrum could benefit from AAC, are aware of relevant AAC options, or make use of AAC. For this reason, a research survey has been designed to assess awareness, use, and perceived effectiveness of AAC for a broader sample of autistic adults. The survey is open to adults on the autism spectrum as well as to parents and professionals working with autistic adults, again in order to reach a broader sample of stakeholders. Discussion of preliminary findings from focus groups and from the survey, and implications of these findings will be presented, as well as background from key literature sites and processes followed in designing, developing, and conducting the study.
Alyssa Hillary Zisk & Elizabeth M. Dalton, Ph.D.
The Special Synergy of 3D Printing and Assistive Technology
Assistive technology devices have always been expensive, functionally conservative, and aesthetically bland. This is the unavoidable result of the selection of traditional mass production manufacturing methods by companies trying to serve a market that is small in size and incredibly diverse in its needs. The hallmarks of mass production are: huge set-up costs and small per-item costs. Any changes in design require significant investment, up front, that have to be cost justified. The market for assistive technology is small and it has no “sweet-spot” – every individual with a disability is an amalgam of unique needs and desires. AT users are required to accommodate their device rather than the other way around. 3D printing promises to turn this story on its head. 3D printing has little or no setup cost and each item produced can be entirely unique. Best of all, high-quality 3D printers are very affordable and the material used to make functional products is almost free. 3D printing can put highly customized and personalized assistive devices in the hands of individuals at almost no cost. Volksswitch.org is devoted to designing customizable, 3D printable devices and putting those designs in the hands of the people who need them.
Poster Session Presenter Biographies
Debra Adams is the chair of the Rehabilitation Sciences Program at NEIT, focusing on Assistive Technology.
Meghan Broz is an ATP and adjunct faculty member of the Rehabilitation Sciences Program at NEIT.
Elizabeth M. Dalton, Ph.D. is currently adjunct professor for the Communicative Disorders Department, School of Health Sciences, University of Rhode Island. Dr. Dalton is PI for this study. Previously, she was assistant professor of special education at Rhode Island College, where she also worked as a coordinator for the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Dalton helped to found the TechACCESS Conference of RI (now the ATCNE), as well as the TechACCESS Center of RI. She consults on issues of Universal Design for Learning, technology applications in education, and curriculum development (currently focusing on online learning methods).
Christopher Emerling is a doctoral student at University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interest surrounds practitioner self-efficacy with assistive technology and how it relates to student outcomes.
Elena Fader is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Specialist and Speech-Language Pathologist at New England Assistive Technology (NEAT), an Oak Hill Center. She provides AAC consultations, and evaluations for individuals of all ages with complex communication needs and related disabilities. Elena also provides trainings and workshops to families, caregivers, and professionals to promote community awareness of technology to support communication and independence. She has extended her support beyond her immediate community by presenting at conferences at the local and national levels. Elena attended the University of Vermont (B.A., Phi Beta Kappa) and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (M.A., U.S. Dept. of Ed. Autism Spectrum Disorders Fellow). She obtained her AT Certificate from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is licensed by the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts as well as by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is a current member of the ASHA Special Interest Group 12 for AAC.
Ken Hackbarth is the president of Volksswitch.org – an organization devoted to the democratization of assistive technology by leveraging the power and promise of 3D printing. Prior to his current position he worked for almost three decades as a systems architect for AT&T Bell Laboratories and its subsequent divestitures. He has a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the University of Arizona and a Master of Education in Special Education, with a concentration in assistive technology, from Bowling Green State University.
Elisabeth K. Hubbard is a staff attorney at the RI Disability Law Center, Rhode Island’s Protection and Advocacy Agency. RIDLC provides free legal services to individuals with disabilities, including assistance with appeals of denials of funding from Medicaid, Medicare, vocational rehabilitation and school districts.
Krishna Venkatasubramanian is an Assistant Professor at the Computer Science department of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). He also holds a collaborative appointment of Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. His research interests are in: security and fault-tolerance for cyber-physical systems (CPS); novel biometrics for wearable/implantable systems; and Cyber-security for assistive technologies.
Alyssa Hillary Zisk is a(n Autistic) PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program at the University of Rhode Island. Among other areas, they study Augmentative and Alternative Communication, both in the form of brain computer interfaces and as used by autistic adults. Alyssa hosted a United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication chat (#ussaachat) on AAC in the workplace and is a user of AAC.