Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - Summer 2020

This summer, the country celebrated the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July. The ADA was signed on July 26, 1990, so this year the legislation hit the big 3-0, which in humans typically signifies a turning point into true adulthood where grand change occurs as a result of assessing the journey to 30. Perhaps, we'll observe similarly expansive impacts as the ADA turns the corner to 30. Though large gatherings are still discouraged, advocates and...

Technology and Disability Policy Highlights – May 2020

In May, the world celebrated the Eighth Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) with virtual events. Microsoft hosted its annual Ability Summit, open to the public, and discussed a variety of disability access and inclusion topics. IBM also celebrated with the launch of an open-source Equal Access Toolkit. This toolkit was created to provide web designers with resources to create accessible websites and applications. Other tech companies, like Apple and Google, released new...

Applying Tangible Augmented Reality for Usability Assessment

When developing a new product, it is common for designers to feel that they do not have enough information about users’ needs. This is especially true at the front end of a new product design process. An important component of this process is testing and validating potential design concepts. The aim of this study was to explore the validity of augmented reality (AR) and tangible augmented reality (TAR) as tools for evaluating the usability of


Design and Evaluation of a Multimodal Physics Simulation

We present a multimodal science simulation, including visual and auditory (descriptions, sound effects, and sonifications) display. The design of each modality is described, as well as evaluation with learners with and without visual impairments. We conclude with challenges and opportunities at the intersection of multiple modalities.

Supporting Simulation Use for Students with Mild Cognitive Impairment

In this study, we explore how enhancing interactive science simulations with sonifications can scaffold interaction and learning for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). We added auditory cues to three PhET Interactive Simulations as additional feedback to highlight important concepts and relationships. Working with seventeen students who have I/DD, we evaluated the success of these cues in emphasizing science concepts, explored


Spotlights and Soundscapes: On the Design of Mixed Reality Auditory Environments for Persons with Visual Impairment

For persons with visual impairment, forming cognitive maps of unfamiliar interior spaces can be challenging. Various technical developments have converged to make it feasible, without specialized equipment, to repre- sent a variety of useful landmark objects via spatial audio, rather than solely dispensing route information. Although such systems could be key to facilitating cognitive map formation, high-density auditory environments must be crafted carefully


Design and Evaluation of a Multimodal Physics Simulation

We present a multimodal physics simulation, including visual and auditory (description, sound effects, and sonification) modalities to support the diverse needs of learners. We describe design challenges and solutions, and findings from final simulation evaluations with learners with and without visual impairments. We also share insights from completing research with members of diverse learner groups (N = 52). This work presents approaches for designing and


Barriers to Employment Participation of Individuals with Disabilities: Addressing the Impact of Employer (Mis)Perception and Policy

Although progress has been made toward the objective of increased employment for people with disabilities, the 17.2% employment rate of people with disabilities stands in distressing contrast to the 65% rate of those without disabilities. This article summarizes the results of a comparative survey of representative academic literature and industry publications related to employer policies and practices that can affect workforce participation of


Imagining futures: A collaborative policy/device design for wearable computing

The rapidly expanding market for wearable computing devices (wearables), driven by advances in information and communication technologies (ICT), wireless access, and public acceptance of a design aesthetic, is indicative of the near limitless potential for changing the relationship of users to information context(s). As the adoption of wearable devices spreads, there are cultural and social impacts that represent both barriers and opportunities, with subsequent policy ramifications. All too...

Does culture affect usability? A trans-European usability and user experience assessment of a falls-risk connected health system following a user-centered design methodology carried out in a single

User-centred design (UCD) is a process whereby the end-user is placed at the centre of the design process. The WIISEL (Wireless Insole for Independent and Safe Elderly Living) system is designed to monitor fall risk and to detect falls and consists of a pair of instrumented insoles and a smartphone app. The system was designed using a three-phase UCD process carried out in Ireland, which incorporated the input of Irish end-users and multidisciplinary experts



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The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.