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College of Engineering and Applied Science

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UC Denver
 

​The RERC-ACT III is focused on developing an automated job coach for warehouse workers with mild to moderate intellectual​ and developmental disabilities (MMIDD). ​The re​search team is working towards this goal though a series of development, research, training and dissemination activities. Motivation and an outline of each research and development activity are outlined below. Information on current progress can be found by clicking on the links.


Motivation

This is an exciting and highly dynamic time to be engaged in work surrounding cognitive technologies; due in large part due to the fact that we are becoming a nation heavily populated by older adults. There is a quickly growing recognition that technology has the potential to facilitate community independence; improved health outcomes and healthcare for seniors; including those with cognitive impairments. There is also a quickly growing recognition that we must develop technology solutions to support care providers as well as those living with cognitive disabilities. In 2009, persons 65 or older in the United States numbered 39.6 million, representing 12.9% of the U.S. population (1 in every 8 Americans). By 2030, it is projected there will be about 72.1 million older persons—growing to 19% of the population. In a prevalence study completed by Plassman and others (2008), they estimated prevalence of dementia among individuals aged 71 and older at 13.9%, comprising about 3.4 million individuals in the USA. Dementia prevalence increased with age, from 5.0% ages 71–79 years to 37.4% of those 90 and older.​

Unfortunately, for anyone with a disability, there is a significant difference in employment rates as compared to the general population without disabilities. In a 2011 American Community Survey, it was estimated that 32.4% of working age adults with disabilities had a job as compared to 70.5% of persons without a disability. By 2012, the empl​oyment rate had dropped to 28.4% for persons with disabilities. Kaye reported (2010), that workers with disabilities had significantly higher levels of job loss and hardship during the recent recession as compared to those without disabilities.

For working age adults with IDD, the data is even worse. Data from the National Core Indicators Project collected (2010) reported only 14.7% of adults with IDD participated in integrated employment; and, of those who were employed, they typically do not work a full 40 hour week and received lower wages than persons without disabilities.

The RERC-ACT III is focused on improving employment opportunities for persons with cognitive disabilities. With the exception of project R1, our Product Testing Lab, we will target working age adults with IDD. We have targeted working age adults with TBI for the R1 project as we are ready to begin comparing previous results (persons with IDD) with another sub-population (TBI). We are interested in learning what, if any differences, exist in product usability for these subpopulations. As a NIDRR-funded RERC, we will focus on researching and developing innovative technology solutions that have capacity for commercialization; generating, disseminating and facilitating utilization of new knowledge; and continuing to build our transdisciplinary team of collaborators along with the next generation of scientists and engineers.


​Development Activities

Dev overview.PNG Figure. Interactive Prompting Platform (IPP) Development Projects​

    • D1. Effective Configuration and Authoring of Interactive Prompting Templates (IPP-CA)
      This project focuses on generating prompting templates for the warehouse tasks. The specific goals are to simplify the authoring and editing process so that individuals, e.g. work supervisors, are able to effectively set-up the system for use.
      dev1.PNG

    • D2. Integrating IPP with Enterprise Systems and Generation of Context-aware Linear Prompts (IPP-IM)
      Our prompting system must be integrated with the business systems of the warehouse. This includes HR, inventory control, and dispatch systems. Additionally, access to the sensor system of the warehouse is important. We will install a navigation support sensor system in our test warehouse. Using data from the integrated system we will select specific warehouse tasks and generate a linear prompt for the tasks and specific workers.
      dev2.PNG
      ​Figure. Interactie Prompting Platform (IPP) and Navigation subtask

    • D3. Real-time Monitoring of Execution of Job Tasks with Non-linear Intelligent Contextual Prompts (IPP-FM)
      Given the linear task from D2 and data from the sensor system, this project (D3) focuses on monitoring the progress of the worker executing the task, detecting errors and prompting for correct completion. It is this project that adds interactive and nonlinear characteristics to the context-aware linear prompt from D2. This project will also track the performance of individuals to provide data for research.​
      dev3.PNG 
      Table. Conceptual model for location independent personalized, dynamic, context-aware prompting

Research Acti​vities

    • R1.​​ Influence of Technology Design on the Usability of Thirty Assistive and Mainstream Commercial Devices Used by Working Age Adults with Mild to Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
      The first research project (R1) is centered on our Product Testing Lab and the critical need to perform usability tests with the myriad of technologies used by persons with cognitive disabilities in order to improve individual consumer selection of the "right" technology as well as improving the design and development of existing, emerging and new technologies. Over the past five years, our population of interest was persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). For this round, our target population is working age adults with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This will begin to enable us to understand more fully what, if any, differences might be present in usability issues across different populations of persons with cognitive disabilities.
      R1.PNG

Training Activities

    • ​​T1. Students

      A primary training and capacity building activity of the RERC-ACT involves building the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers and developers. We have Masters and Doctoral students working on every project of the RERC.

      At the CU Ansch​utz Medical Campus, courses related to rehabilitation, assistive technology, and advanced clinical techniques are being developed and will be launched beginning fall, 2014. Dr. Bodine and RERC-ACT colleagues will have numerous opportunities for teaching, research and clinical translational activities. The BIOE 6251 Advanced course in Bioengineering for persons with disabilities is offered annually by Dr. Bodine, as is BIOE 5010, Research Methods for Bioengineers. Dr. Bodine hosts two PhD students and 6 Masters Students each year of the RERC-ACT. All are be engaged in either dissertation or thesis work related to the RERC-ACT. Clinical research opportunities are available to allied health professionals as well.​

    • T2. Conferences

      The RERC-ACT will host our third state of the science conference in year four. We are actively participating in the Coleman Institute ​for Cognitive Disabilities annual conferences; RESNA (Denver, 2015); ATIA, ACM and many others.

    • T3. Webinars

      We are de​veloping dynamic webinars presenting results of the RERC-ACT III, as well as more specific cognitive technology training material. These webinars are hosted through the accessible webinar platform provided by ATIA.

    • T4. Usability Testing
      Training students and other faculty researchers in usability testing protocols and providing environments for usability testing is a major contribution of the third phase of the RERC-ACT.

Dissemination Activities

    • ​​​Newsletter

      The RERC-ACT publishes our highly successful and accessible quarterly newsletter with expanded cognitive technologies related articles. Electronic links are emailed to over 5000 individuals and organizations each quarter.

    • Conferences

      We have a special relationship with the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) andwork with them to expand the cognitive technology track at annual ATIA meetings. These sessions provide a forum for industry to communicate with us, critique our efforts and help guide future research and development.​

    • Journal Publications

    • Industry Advisory Council