CATEA Director, Jon Sanford, is the lead PI on a new GT interdisciplinary Center on Aging with Disability

By | Posted December 31, 1969

Atlanta, GA

Georgia Tech recently received a $4.6 million, five year grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the Department of Education grant to support an interdisciplinary Center on Technologies to Support for Successful Aging with Disability (RERC TechSAge). Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) director Jon Sanford will serve as the lead principal investigator (PI), along with Wendy Rogers and Tracy Mitzner from Human Factors and Aging Lab as co-PIs.  The Center will also include project investigators from Georgia Tech's Institute for People and Technology (IPaT), School of Industrial Design, Center for Geographic Information Systems (GIS Center), Alternative Media Access Center (AMAC), Interactive Media Technology Center (IMTC), Human-Centered Computing (HCC), Biomedical Engineering (BME), and Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) as well as Emory Center for Health in Aging, and Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Carolina.

This RERC will serve as a catalyst for a major shift in the understanding and development of home and community technologies. The mission of RERC TechSAge is to conduct programs of advanced rehabilitation engineering and technical R&D to increase knowledge about, availability of, and access to effective, universally-designed technologies that enable people to sustain independence, maintain health, safely engage in basic activities of daily living at home and the community, and participate in society as they age with disability.

Specific projects will include:

1. Research Projects:

R1. User Needs. This project will use a multi-faceted approach to provide converging evidence to development of integrated technology supports that meet the needs of older adults with disabilities. Specifically, it will develop a taxonomy of everyday support needs, assess user needs for home-based activities, and create an integrated dataset to predict task performance and technology needs. 

R2. Effects of Age-Related Hearing Loss. This project will investigate the ancillary impact of age-acquired hearing impairment on the use of mobility-related assistive technology and outdoor mobility among visually-impaired older adults to identify impacts on AT use, mobility and community participation that will result in design and practice guidelines.

R3. Telerobotics. This project will identify the requirements of robotics interventions to compensate for activity limitations and participation restrictions among older adults with disabilities through an understanding of telerobot acceptance by the target population; determining the effectiveness of telerobot exercise interventions for enhancing self-efficacy and social connectedness; and assessing the usefulness and ease of use of a telerobot. 

2. Development Projects:

D1. App Development. The purpose of this project is to develop mobile applications to support successful aging by older adults with a disability.  Three apps will be developed: cognitive training to prevent functional decline; route planning to promote community mobility; and gait analysis to predict activity limitations.

D2. Smart Bathroom.  The purpose of this project is to develop a system of smart bathroom technologies and fixtures, such as grab bars and adjustable toilets, that adapt to user’s needs and functional abilities based on an analysis of gait, balance, posture, grip strength and other factors.

D3. IntelliBot.  The purpose of this project is to develop an open-source code, open hardware robotic system that is able to perform common actions with its hand (e.g., tool use) and is capable of adapting to changes in a user’s abilities and preferences to provide better assistance.

3. Training Projects:

T1. Continuing Education.  This project will provide clinical and laboratory experiences, through an integrated program of online training that includes a 4-week online course on universal design and RE research methods; a series of live virtual practica with hands-on participation in RERC research; and specialized webcasts to supplement the online course.

T2. Post-Secondary Education.  This project will introduce the principles of rehabilitation engineering research, universal design and aging with disability to undergraduate and graduate students in ID, ME, HCI, HCC and PSY at Georgia Tech through classroom instruction, student projects, and advanced research training through graduate research assistantships.

T3. UD Competition.  This project will introduce students across the GA Tech campus to the principles of universal design in the development of home and community based technologies through a special award as part of GA Tech’s Convergence Innovations Competition (CIC).