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Adaptive technologies designed by and for people with disabilities

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Posted March 4, 2015

The best adaptive technologies are designed by, not for, people with disabilities, says Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president for knowledge enterprise development at ASU, in a Future Tense article for Slate magazine.

David Hayden is pictured using a version of the Note-Taker, a prototype of a device he invented to aid students with visual impairments.

David Hayden is pictured using a version of the Note-Taker, a prototype of a device he invented to aid students with visual impairments.

Truly effective technologies require collaboration between the creator and the user, Panch argued. This is especially true when the user has a specific disability and the technology being created aims to lesson the burden of that disability.

Panch describes his firsthand experience in working with a visually-impaired student to develop a new technology that would help alleviate the stress of the student’s disability. The result was Note-Taker, a device developed by ASU student David Hayden at the CUbiC lab.

Note-Taker ultimately won the national and world competitions in the “touch and tablet” category at the worldwide Microsoft Imagine Cup competition. The invention was so effective that it became popular among all students that got the chance to use it.

“Once visually impaired students started using Note-Taker in classrooms, something truly remarkable happened. Sighted students began asking for the technology for their own use. This is not actually uncommon among well-designed assistive devices,” Panch writes.

Source: Arizona State University

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