Downloadable Posters/Presentations RERC-ACT and its affiliates have posted
Naming Practice for People with Aphasia in a Mobile Web Application: Early User Experience.
Hagood et al.
Poster on mobile application for naming practice.
Coleman Institute 2010 Annual Conference
R2. Context Aware Prompting
The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for the Advancement of Cognitive Technologies
The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Advancing Cognitive Technologies targets the almost 23 million American’s who have some form of cognitive disability. Our focus is on research and development of cognitive technologies for this community across the life span, with a goal to increase the quality of life of this community, their families and caregivers; expand inclusion in all aspects of life and work; and to increase independence.
Our efforts are focused in three main areas. First, a product usability testing facility to focus rigorous industry-standard product testing protocols on cognitive assistive technology. This will allow us to disseminate detailed usability studies, engage our core community in testing to rigorously determine features which cause products to succeed or fail. The testing and evaluation capability will be integral in all development projects. Second, we are developing a core software/sensor platform to support mobile animated agents used for multiple applications. Third, we are focusing on developing Standards; a critically missing link for cognitive technology Information Technology access and technologies.
Theory- and Simulation-based Vocabulary Development for Employment: An Analysis of the Word Maturity Method for Adult Workers with Mild Cognitive Impairments
Today, some people with cognitive disabilities are not qualified for some jobs because of difficulty with vocabulary. This project is studying a new technique for vocabulary enhancement, to see if it is useful for increasing employment opportunities and enhancing job performance. The approach adapts the Word Maturity Method for vocabulary development, which is turn is based on the Latent Semantic Analysis technique for representing the meanings of words and sentences. The technique uses “test and teach” cloze items that can be used both to assess the learner’s understanding of a target vocabulary word, and to give the learner information about what the word actually means. (A cloze item is a sentence with a blank; the student is asked to choose a word that best fills the blank.)
Non-linear Context-Aware Prompting System (N-CAPS) for Adults with Cognitive Disabilities in the Workplace
The Non-linear Context-Aware Prompting System for Adults with Cognitive Disabilities in the Workplace project integrates non-linear prompting, animated agents, context-aware sensors, battery-less power sources for sensors, automated video recognition, and complex mathematical modeling to create a solution intended to assist people with cognitive disabilities to succeed in the workplace. The specific aim of this project is a substantial increase in the number individuals with cognitive disabilities successfully placed in the workforce and a reduction in the number of hours a job coach is required to assist the employee. This past year the focus has been on work place environment analysis and system design. The poster has a small montage of the over 60 Unified Modeling Language diagrams produced during the analysis and design phase, and the key system components.
Socially Interactive Early Childhood Robotics
The role of play in early childhood is universally recognized as a critical foundation for cognitive and social development. For most children opportunities to interact with the world are plentiful as they reach, roll over and later crawl, then toddle around their environments; as mobility and communication improve so do the opportunities to practice familiar skills and to develop new ones. For children with delayed motor and communication skills the opportunities to learn about their world are comparatively scarce.
It is for this nexus that socially assistive robotics holds promise. Caregiver s and therapists naturally engage in social interactions with infants and toddlers such as games of peek-a-boo, positioning toys within read and “baby-talk”. Unfortunately toys themselves are much less intelligent requiring the child to independently initiate and direct play. It is hoped that properly developed robotics paired with environmental sensors can bridge this gap to provide increased opportunities for these types of interactions.
This pilot specifically seeks to broaden the body of research on socially assistive robotics to include very young children (12-24 months) with significant developmental delays in the areas of communication and movement. The research will utilize the prototype robotic system engineered through The Socially Interactive Early Childhood Robotics (SAR) Project (D5) development project to investigate play-based interactions between the child and the robot. The study will target three areas in particular including 1) the efficacy of the robot in regards to increasing target behaviors in the child, 2) the robustness of the underlying controls system(s) used to process sensor input and to direct responses on the part of the robot, and 3) the fidelity of the model of human – robot interaction which directed the development of the prototype.
Cognitive Decline, Work and Technological Interruptions
While much research has focused on developing models of interruptible moments, often leveraging multiple sensors or physiological data (e.g., papillary response), the goal of the current research is to understand differences in how younger and older adults deal with and recover from interruptions. The research extends earlier efforts on interruptions during interactions with information technologies by explicitly addressing the influence of the changes in cognitive skills that are often associated with aging. Our initial studies focus on the software development process and investigate the effects of age-related declines in cognitive function on the programmers' ability to manage interruptions as well as the strategies employed to recover from these interruptions. Our goals are to designing new technologies to more effectively support this recovery process.
Cognitive Technologies at Work and Home: Providing Anthropomorphic Assistance
van Vuuren, Sarel
We present results of the first year in an ongoing 5-year project to develop cognitive
technologies for work and home. Project D2 in the NIDDR Rehabilitation and Engineering
Research Center on Advancing Cognitive Technologies (RERC-ACT: Bodine et al, 2009) is part
of an ecosystem of collaborative projects to design, develop and evaluate non-linear contextaware
prompting technologies to help people with cognitive disabilities manage and overcome
procedural and soft-skills challenges at work and home. Braddock et al (2004) estimates the
U.S. population of people with cognitive disabilities at more than 20 million people. In project D2
specifically, our focus is to provide a personalized experience by adding a “human dimension” to
the computer interface that improves, directs and encourages success: in short, providing
anthropomorphic assistance (Van Vuuren, 2007).
To provide anthropomorphic assistance we leverage our previous work in personalized learning
and virtual therapy: multimodal and interactive state-driven interfaces for assistance, and
configurable and authorable state-aware interfaces for supervision (Cherney et al, 2008; Wise et
al, 2008; Lee et al, 2009), conversational animated agents with accurate visual speech: based
on articulatory phonetics (Ladefoged, 1993; Van Vuuren, 2007, 2008) and asynchronous
approaches to network-centric PC, web and mobile application delivery (Van Vuuren &
Here we describe work to develop interfaces for anthropomorphic assistance as part of a
collaboration with project D3 (Melonis et al) that is developing a non-linear context-aware
prompting system for an assembly task (Bodine et al, 2009).
Bodine, C., Lightner, M., Lewis, C et al, (2009). RERC on Advancing Cognitive Technologies (RERC-ACT). National
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research under the US Department of Education, Grant
#H133E090002: Available: http://rerc-act.org
Braddock, D., Rizzolo, M., Thompson, M. Bell, R. (2004). Emerging Technologies and Cognitive Disability, Journal of
Special Education Technology. 19(4), Fall 2004. Retrieved as:
Cherney, L. R., Lee, J. B., Hurwitz, R., Ngampatipatpong, N., Van Vuuren, S. (2008). Treating Aphasia over the
Internet: A Clinical Trial, Annual Convention of the American-Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA),
Ladefoged, P. (1993). A Course in Phonetics. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Third Edition.
Lee, J. B., Kaye, R. C. and Cherney, L. R.(2009). Conversational script performance in adults with non-fluent
aphasia: Treatment intensity and aphasia severity, Aphasiology, 23:7, 885-897.
Van Vuuren, S. (2007). Technologies that power pedagogical agents. Educational Technology., 24:1, 4-10.
Van Vuuren, S. (2008). Animated Agent with Accurate Visual Speech for Learning on the Web, Innovation Seed
Grand Program, University of Colorado Boulder Graduate School. Online: http://innovation.colorado.edu
Van Vuuren, S. & Ngampatipatpong, N. (2009). Interactive Learning Assistants for Online and Mobile Accessibility,
1st IEEE conference on Accessing the Future, Boston.
Wise, B., Van Vuuren, S., Ngampatipatpong, N. (2008). Initial Outcomes of Preliminary Computer RTI Study, 59th
Annual Conference of the International Dyslexia Association, Seattle, WA.
Product Testing Laboratory
Much of this project is devoted to evaluating the usability of products used by people with disabilities. Our interest in this stems from the significant number of assistive technology products that are abandoned shortly after being acquired. One contributor to this is the apparent lack of good human factors design in many products for people with disabilities. This can undermine the user’s ability to effectively and efficiently use the product.
Formal usability testing involves capturing real users (people with disabilities that represent the target market for the AT or consumer product) using the product, attempting to accomplish tasks for which the product was designed. We will, for example, be asking caregivers and parents of children with speech difficulties to set up an AAC product for their child’s use. During the test, we will record this activity. This will enable us to identify problems, difficulties, and missteps made by the participant, and analyze them to determine what design features or documentation may have contributed to their cause. Usability metrics are applied to each test. These include the number of errors, time-on-task, success/non-success, and efficiency. In addition, a standardized measure of usability is applied through administration of the System Usability Survey developed by IBM. Satisfaction is also assessed through administration of a short post-test survey. Statistical significance of results is supported by the number of participants included in any one product test. Valuable results may be obtained engaging anywhere from 5 to 20 participants, depending on the goals for the particular test. Our plan is to conduct such testing on 50 products during the life of the project.
Inclusive Collaboration Technology
Increasingly, projects of all kinds are carried out by groups of people scattered across the country, or the world, using phone or computer-based collaboration tools to do their work. Unfortunately, people with cognitive disabilities are rarely included in these projects, even when the projects concern them. In part this exclusion results from the difficulty in following what is happening these meetings, and in contributing to them. For example, it can be difficult to signal that one wants to speak, or to get help from another participant when needed to understand a complex question. Our aim is to shape collaboration tools and practices to give people with cognitive disabilities the same ability to effectively participate in group discussions as people without disabilities.
Development of Uniform Standards
The Development of Uniform Standards for Cognitive Technologies project will first identify aspects of technology that have implications for people with cognitive disabilities and then draft objective, technical standards that allow designers to meet the needs of this population. Ease-of-use standards for consumer electronics, the internet, software applications, and household appliances can make a high-tech society accessible to people with cognitive impairments. The standards will also allow the project team to create a consumer reporting system that will let people match the diverse features they need to products on the market. User and caretaker surveys are underway to determine the products of highest priority for this population. The recently established RESNA Standards Committee on Cognitive Technologies will serve as the official home for these standards.
.(2010, June). Product usability testing of assistive technology: unique challenges and benefits. National Conference, ATIA Conference, Orlando, FL.
Funding is provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research under the US Department of Education, Grant #H133E090003, the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and Assistive Technology Partners.