There are over 35 million people in the United States who have disabilities, all of whom have different needs. A lot of the assistive technology they need is either unavailable, very expensive, or requires custom modification. Many people with disabilities cannot afford custom modifications. For the past twenty years the University of Toledo has been introducing students to assistive technology through senior design projects.
The National Science Foundation's General & Age Related Disabilities Engineering (GARDE) program supported undergraduate engineering design projects that developed technology to support people with disabilities. Projects funded through this program had multiple benefits, including:
Following are examples of strategies for integrating universal design, accessibility, and disability topics into the engineering curriculum, facilities, and programs.
Steps that disability and IT professionals can take to ensure the accessibility of their campus IT resources include:
6.811: Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology (PPAT) is a semester-long, project-based course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) focused on the design and engineering of customized assistive devices for people with disabilities. In PPAT, small teams of students work closely with a person with a disability in the Cambridge, MA area to develop a product or solution that helps them live more independently.
There are limitless ways that senior design projects can help people with disabilities. Many faculty members do this by locating an individual with a disability who is looking to solve an accessibility problem. Students can then work to resolve the issue.
My name is Daniel. As an undergraduate mechanical engineering student, I am required to take a design and manufacturing laboratory course. In this course, students work in teams to build devices using mills, lathes, and other manufacturing equipment. I have high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. At the beginning of the term, I spoke with the instructor about my disability and accommodations.
My name is Michael. During spring quarter, I experienced a depressive episode. This episode negatively impacted my concentration, short-term memory, and stamina. My grades suffered as a result.