Professor with students in wheelchairs working on assistive technology and universal access

The UW-Milwaukee Assistive Technology & Universal Access (ATUA) Laboratory is a base for assistive technology (AT) and universal design expertise, instruction, and projects. We have hundreds of low and high-tech devices and software to meet the needs of people with disabilities, including computer access, communications/telecommunications, environmental control, adaptive writing, wheeled mobility, and worksite accommodations. We study how physical, educational, and Internet environments can be designed to be more usable for everyone, including people with disabilities, to deliver the next level of accessibility… universal access.

Electives in assistive technology and universal design are available to students from all majors on campus. Students not only learn about the devices, but also about the roles that different professionals play in providing AT services. Students in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences & Technology will have the opportunity to use AT in projects for other courses. Master’s and doctoral students may also choose to complete their thesis/project in AT or universal design.

Assistive technology 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 linked with the Rehabilitation Research Design & Disability Center, an interdisciplinary research center with projects related to assistive technology, assistive technology outcomes measurement, and universal design.


Michelle Silverman, MS, OTR

2400 E. Hartford Ave.
Enderis Hall, Room 135A
Milwaukee, WI 53211