The Assistive Technology & Universal Access (ATUA) Lab is a base for assistive technology and universal design expertise, instruction, and projects. It houses a variety of devices, software, and resources used to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. The hundreds of low and high-tech devices & software titles in the lab represent many categories of assistive technology, including computer access, communication/telecommunications, environmental control, adaptive writing, wheeled mobility, and worksite accommodations. Universal design is studied to determine how environments (physical, educational, Internet) can be created to be more usable by everybody, including people with disabilities, creating the next generation of accessibility… universal access.
Electives in assistive technology and universal design are available to students from all majors on campus. In AT courses, students not only learn about the devices themselves, but also the roles that different professionals play in providing AT services. In addition to the elective options, students in the Occupational Science & Technology Department will find introductory assistive technology lectures and labs infused throughout the curriculum and opportunities to use AT in projects for other courses. Master’s and doctoral degree students may also choose to complete their thesis or project in the area of AT or universal design.
Some assistive technology (AT) examples include:
- A computer “mouse” to move the mouse pointer with one’s head, used in conjunction with software that produces mouse clicks without pressing a button.
- Low-tech writing adaptations and aids that provide stability and reduce grip requirements.
- Screen reading software that makes it possible for a person who is blind to use a computer and to listen to information on websites.
- Environmental control systems that allows the user to control lights, radios, fans, and other devices by pressing a single switch.
- Switches of all shapes, sizes, colors, activation forces/method.
- Toys that have been adapted so that they can be controlled with a single switch.
- Speech recognition software that makes talking to the computer an alternative or supplement to the traditional keyboard and mouse.
- Keyboards of all types, including some that are half the size or twice the size of the usual keyboard.
- Augmentative and alternative communication devices with digitized and synthesized speech output.
The ATUA Lab is located adjacent to and is closely linked with the Rehabilitation Research Design & Disability (R2D2) Center. The R2D2 Center is an interdisciplinary research center with several local and national projects related to assistive technology, assistive technology outcomes measurement, and universal design.