Orphan Assistive Technology at the REAR Lab
Persons with disabilities use many types of devices to increase their functional abilities. These devices, termed assistive technology (AT) are used during all aspects of everyday life. While some AT is designed for relatively large numbers of people (i.e., walkers), many persons with disabilities have unique needs that cannot be met by current commercial products. These needs define Orphan Assistive Technology, which serves a user group that is too small to support adequate research and development. While Orphan AT does not have a large market, it is very important to those who need it.
The REARLab works with clinicians and persons with disabilities to identify Orphan AT needs and then engages students in a user-centered design process. This project has direct impact on the lives of both our clients and students. Persons with disabilities are provided with new assistive technologies that impact their independence and quality of life. Students are exposed to a user-centered design process targeting the needs of persons with disabilities. This experience helps populate the field with designers and engineers who have a fuller understanding of our functional differences and will serve them well and benefit society regardless of their chosen profession.
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