New RIT Program Seeks to Improve the Lives of People with Disabilities

Seed-funding effort will award $100,000 for research in assistive devices




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201210/robotics.jpg

Elizabeth Lamark, ETC Photo/The Wallace Center

A team led by Edward Brown, associate professor of electrical engineering, is developing orthotics and robotics that could improve mobility for persons with physical disabilities. Electrical engineering student Adey Begregioris, right, controls a robotic manipulator using sEMG signals obtained from her bicep muscles.

More than 1 billion people, or approximately 15 percent of the world’s population, live with some form of a disability. RIT is seeking to spur research that assists people with disabilities and the agencies that serve them through a new seed-funding effort offered by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The Effective Access Technology Program is offering a total of $100,000 in funding to faculty-led student teams to address access issues for disabled persons in the Rochester community. Individual seed grants will range from $5,000 to $10,000. The program is open to tenure and tenure-track faculty; proposals are due Nov. 12. To learn more about the program, including how to apply, go to www.rit.edu/research/srs/news.

“Experience has shown that when barriers to inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to fully participate in societal life, their entire community benefits,” says Ryne Raffaelle, RIT vice president for research and associate provost.

Proposals must address 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 disabilities, or technology that improves the safety of and accessibility for individuals living in assisted living or group residences.

Emphasis will also be placed on projects that provide near-term benefits for local service agencies that address the needs of the disabled. RIT is partnering with the Al Sigl Community of Agencies, its affiliates and sister organizations as part of the program.

“Through this effort we seek to advance the cutting-edge research already being conducted on campus and better connect it with the needs of those serving the disabled community in our region,” Raffaelle adds.

The winners will be announced at the RIT Celebration of Research, 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 16 in Louise M. Slaughter Hall, room 2240.

201210/robotics.jpg

Elizabeth Lamark, ETC Photo/The Wallace Center

A team led by Edward Brown, associate professor of electrical engineering, is developing orthotics and robotics that could improve mobility for persons with physical disabilities. Electrical engineering student Adey Begregioris, right, controls a robotic manipulator using sEMG signals obtained from her bicep muscles.