Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Disabled Need Wireless

Georgia Tech and the Shepherd Center were awarded $4.75 million for a five year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) to research and develop wireless technologies to help people living with disabilities. This grant award is the third consecutive five-year grant awarded to the team of researchers and will continue the ongoing research and engineering at the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center RERC a collaborative effort between Shepherd Center and Georgia Tech.

“This funding will allow us to move into new and emerging areas and leverage our relationships with the wireless industry, disability organizations, governmental agencies, and other researchers and engineers to promote equitable access to wireless technologies and to develop new assistive technologies build on wireless platforms,” said Helena Mitchell, Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Communications Policy at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy and Principal Investigator and Co-Director of the Wireless RERC grant.

The Wireless RERC is going to launch a new incubator to develop software apps. The Apps Factory will fund innovative internal and external ideas on a competitive basis to provide apps to people with disabilities across a wide range of platforms. This research should help build new assistive tools based on “smart” wireless platforms.

In addition, the Wireless RERC will continue to work to find better solutions to provide better access to 911 emergency services. This research focusing on wireless use to help consumers with disabilities may also help shape the development of public policy primarily related to general accessibility and emergency communications.

“We are pleased that NIDRR continues to support the wireless RERC’s important work,” said Mike Jones, Director for Shepherd’s Crawford Research Institute and Co-Director for the Wireless RERC grant. “The rapid pace at which wireless technology has evolved over the past several years and is expected to accelerate in the future, requires ongoing efforts to ensure that the accessibility needs of people with disabilities are incorporated into new technologies.”