RIT conference to focus on effective access technology to help those with disabilities

Agency experts, researchers from RIT, University of Rochester, SUNY Buffalo, Nazareth College and others, discuss and exhibit groundbreaking work underway

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Ryne Raffaelle

Gaming technology that mental-health care providers can employ with patients dealing with autism, substance abuse or violent behavior.

A cane that uses directional force vibrations so that people who are both deaf and blind can more easily navigate.

A see-through, life-sized interactive monitor that allows teachers to face the classroom while writing on the board, and maintain visual contact with students who are deaf.

These are just some of the technologies that will be on display June 11 at Rochester Institute of Technology’s 2013 Effective Access Technology Conference. The event is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the RIT Inn & Conference Center, 5257 West Henrietta Road, Henrietta. It will feature keynote addresses by experts in the field, panel discussions on challenges and solutions and more than 30 exhibits of research currently underway at RIT and its partners.

“This conference will showcase some of the groundbreaking research underway here, work that builds on the long history established by RIT and its National Technical Institute for the Deaf, using technology to make the world more accessible to those with challenges,” says Ryne Raffaelle, vice president of research at RIT.

An estimated 15 percent of the world’s population lives with some form of a disability. Raffaelle said RIT currently has more than 70 effective access technology projects underway, and is conducting some $10 million in sponsored research in this area. The university has accelerated its work in this arena, with 16 seed projects funded in the past year. RIT also continues to explore ways to partner on development projects with other universities as well as agencies, including Al Sigl Center, the Veterans Health Administration and The Arc of Monroe County.

The conference kicks off with keynote addresses by Patricia A. Dorn, interim director of rehabilitation R&D services for the Veterans Health Administration, and Caroline Easton, professor at RIT’s College of Health Sciences and Technology.

Following those talks, Dan Meyers, president of Al Sigl Center, will moderate a panel discussion on the challenges social service agencies see for their clients needing access technology. Among the panelists will be A. Gidget Hopf, president and CEO of ABVI-Goodwill; Marisa Geitner, president and CEO of Heritage Christian Services; Dawn Cooper, senior administrator at The Arc of Monroe; and Kathryn Cosgrove, EEO program manager at Veterans Affairs in Canandaigua. On a second panel, moderated by Raffaelle, experts from SUNY Buffalo, University of Rochester, Nazareth College and other universities will discuss their perspectives on meeting those challenges with solutions.

Speaking at the luncheon will be Patricia Moore '74 (industrial design), an internationally renowned gerontologist and president of MooreDesign and Beth Marks, director of the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities.

After the luncheon, participants will be able to view exhibits of effective access technology research being done at RIT and by some of its partners.

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required and space is limited. To register or get more information on the conference, go to http://www.rit.edu/access.