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Faculty-led student teams from Golisano College awarded research funding to improve lives of people with disabilities

By Kelly Sorenson
 
Rochester Institute of Technology has awarded more than $100,000 in seed funding to 15 faculty-led student teams in an effort to spur research that will assist people with disabilities in the Rochester community.
 
The Effective Access Technology Program is a new seed funding effort offered by RIT’s Office of the Vice President for Research. As part of the program, RIT is partnering with the Al Sigl Community of Agencies, its member and affiliate organizations.
 
“When barriers to inclusion are removed and we provide better access, the entire community benefits,” says Ryne Raffaelle, RIT vice president for research and associate provost. “Last year, RIT had more than 70 research projects related to effective access technology across the university with a cumulative total of more than $10 million in funding.”
 
The six Member Agencies of the Al Sigl Community of Agencies serve more than 50,000 people who live with disabilities and special needs.
 
“Our goal is to get beyond the terms about disabilities, ‘diffabilities’ or differing abilities; our goal is to think about ‘abilities’ first and always,” says Dan Meyers, Al Sigl president. “The resources at RIT will open up doors for the people our Member Agencies serve in ways we can barely imagine.”
 
The winning proposals addressed some aspect of improved access for people with differing abilities. Areas of interest include technology for improving the mobility of persons with visual or hearing impairment, the use of interactive media to help persons with cognitive or physical abilities and technology that improves the safety of and accessibility for individuals living in assisted living or group residences. The winners were announced during a Celebration of Research event at RIT Nov. 16.
 
The following is the list of the seed funding winners and their research projects:
 

  • Amando Bao, College of Applied Science and Technology, “Implementing Screencast Technology to Enhance Students’ Learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Disciplines”
  • Gary Behm, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, “Invisible Captioning and Subtitling”
  • Nathan Cahill, College of Science, “Building a Dictionary of 3D Videos for Linguistic Feature Estimation and Avatar Synthesis for ASL Signers”
  • Steven Day, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, “Design and Fabrication of a Motorized Stander: Increasing Preschool Classroom Accessibility at CP Rochester’s St. Augustin Children’s Center”
  • Joe Geigel, Reynold Bailey, B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, and Marla Schweppe, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, “Hands-Off Drawing Using Eye Gaze, Facial Expressions and Voice Commands”
  • Behnaz Ghoraani, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, “Patient Awareness Device for Aging Populations with Atrial Fibrillation Risk”
  • Mario Gomes, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, “Hearing Aid Redesign”
  • Raja Kushalnagar, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, “Accessible Viewing Device: Eye Gaze—Controlled Live Replay to Automatically Review Missed Information”
  • Stephani Ludi, B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, “AccessBraille: Improving Access to Braille Literacy for Visually Impaired Children”
  • P.R. Mukund, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, “Seamless Integration of Hearing and Non-Hearing Students in the Classroom Setting”
  • Tom Oh, B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, “Smart Cane Prototype for the Blind”
  • Ferat Sahin, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, “A Brain-Computer Interface for Interactive Google Image Search and Retrieval”
  • Vincent Samar, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, “Diagnostic Brain Wave Technology for Identifying Young Adults with ADHD”
  • Dr. Laurence Sugarman, College of Health Sciences and Technology, and Steve Jacobs, B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, “Building Mindgamers” (uses video game and bio-feedback technology to create a clinical play therapy platform for adolescents with anxiety and related disorders)
  • Wayne Walter, Kate Gleason College of Engineering, “A New Approach to Lymphedema Obstruction Monitoring Using Electroactive Polymers”