RIT hosts the 2017 Effective Access Technology Conference April 21

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Exhibits, speakers will focus on innovations to help those with physical or cognitive challenges

Dr. Geoffrey Ling, former assistant director for medical innovation for the Obama administration and an expert in researching and developing technology for war-wounded veterans, is the keynote speaker for Rochester Institute of Technology’s Effective Access Technology Conference on April 21. Ling, a neurology professor at Johns Hopkins University and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, will share his unique expertise during his noontime presentation “Technology for the War Wounded.”

RIT’s Effective Access Technology Conference showcases the work, research and development that has been carried out by the university’s students and faculty to enhance accessibility for individuals across a wide range of challenges. Examples of technologies that are helping people with physical or cognitive challenges will be on display at the event in RIT’s Gene Polisseni Center. The conference kicks off at 9 a.m. and features a keynote speaker, poster and panel presentations, exhibits, workshops and an access technology product competition, wrapping up with an awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m.

According to Dan Phillips, faculty associate for the Partnership for Effective Access Technology Research & Development at RIT, the conference is a “unique and inclusive forum for the exchange of ideas, needs and realities of developing and utilizing devices, systems and processes that can provide enhanced access. That dialogue is ideally carried out when developers and the individuals, service providers and organizations who would benefit from such advances are all at the table.”

Exhibits will include 3D-printed prostheses for underprivileged populations; a system of interactive modules for children with special needs that provides sensory interaction for educational game development; a self-driving wheelchair that provides independence for those impacted by stroke or other injuries that prevent the use of a joystick; a transfer lift for adaptive ski; and a device that helps children with special needs feel more comfortable in therapy pools. Exhibitors will also discuss the Al Sigl Access Technology Discovery Program, an immersive cooperative education program for students to engage with agencies in the development of assistive devices and systems.

These are some of the more than 30 exhibits and 20 poster presentations that will be on hand. New to the conference this year are panel presentations focusing on independent living, government funding and legislation, healthcare and workplace accommodations. Five student teams will also be competing in an Innovative Access Technology Product competition sponsored by the Albert J. Simone Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“A majority of the projects that will be exhibited have had their genesis in a variety of RIT programs and initiatives,” added Phillips. “These projects include students from a number of RIT colleges and are truly interdisciplinary in nature and very much in alignment with RIT’s current strategic plan. Most importantly, the majority of the projects result from outreach into the community and have their origin with an individual’s or population’s needs. Once those contacts are made, the relationship and dialogues that follow really determine the motivation, success and satisfaction on the part of all parties involved. This is experiential learning in the very best sense of the term.”

Ling, an attending physician in the Neuro Critical Care Unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital and acting vice chair for research in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Inova Fairfax Hospital, is a retired U.S. Army colonel and served for 21 years on active duty as a combat critical-care physician during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2003 and to Iraq in 2005. He is the founding director of the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed primary research journal articles, review articles, and book chapters, focused mainly in the fields of neurology, neuroscience, critical care medicine and military medicine. He also holds one patent. 

This year’s conference sponsors include Rochester Regional Health, Research at RIT, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Al Sigl Community of Agencies, Arc of Monroe County, RIT Effective Access Technology Partnership, the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Heritage Christian Services, the Construct @RIT, RIT Simone Center, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the Battery Prototyping Center, the Personalized Healthcare Technology Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Initiative, and the offices of the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. For more information about the conference, go to research.rit.edu/access.

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