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The Technology for Independence projects
To examine innovative research in technology for the independence of persons with disabilities, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) at the U.S. Department of Education funded four five-year projects to explore community-based research or participatory action research in the study of assistive technologies.
Community-based research and participatory action research engages the disability community with the research process at all stages. The approach emphasizes collaboration with community-based disability organizations to strengthen research through including the expertise of the community and the lived experience of disability.
The Community-Based Resource Center (CBRC) at the Law, Health Policy & Disability Center provides technical assistance, dissemination of research products, and networking for the three research projects described below as well as assistance to other disability research projects participating in the CBRC trainings (see Training Opportunities).
The three NIDRR-funded Technology for Independence research projects are investigating different aspects of assistive technology for persons with disabilities. The projects are summarized below:
Assistive Technology (AT) in the Community
The AT in the Community projects consists of two types of studies. The first study is the development of a test battery that can be used to track changes in participation and changes in AT use over time. The second study will explore changes in participation by people with mobility limitations using AT over a three-year period. In addition, at the projectís the Enabling Mobility Center, AT in the Community offers community members an opportunity to access and test assistive technology for information technology. The AT in the Community is a partnership project of Paraquad and Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine.
Community Research for Assistive Technology (CR4AT)
The goal of CR4AT is to increase the capacity of the independent living community to work with its members and stakeholders to collect research data on access and use of AT to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The specific areas of research include assistive technology and employment, health, function and independent living using ecological systems theory. The CR4AT is a project of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers in collaboration with the California State University, Northridge ≠ Center on Disabilities.
This project is evaluating the barriers to computer and information technology use experienced by persons who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind, or deaf/blind. The project will develop a gateway server that makes any web site accessible to individuals with these impairments, regardless of the inaccessibility of the web site itself. The project is a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and several community-based organizations including Three Rivers Center for Independent Living, the Institute of Advanced Technology at the Community College of Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh Vision Services as well as the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the National Federal of the Blind (NFB).
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