Bournemouth University researchers are actively engaged in creating assistive technologies to help create an inclusive society for people with disabilities.
Academics with assistive technology, human factors, product design and usability engineering expertise, are researching to provide solutions to help support the needs of people with disabilities and create equitable access to society for all.
Their research projects look to realise the potential of technology to improve quality of life. This includes projects such as, EduAbility, a recently developed smartphone app for pupils with reduced physical and cognitive abilities, teachers, support staff and parents. The app maps the abilities of pupils with suitable assistive technologies to support their learning and provide recommendations.
The assistive technology recommendations will improve access to education and enable inclusivity for pupils to engage in educational activities. Led by BU’s Dr Huseyin Dogan and Dr Paul Whittington, the app also includes a training package for teachers and support staff in schools. This will increase their knowledge and awareness of available assistive technologies and how they can support their pupils. The training package has interactive videos, quizzes, and publications, to engage teachers in understanding the needs of their pupils and understanding the solutions to support their learning.
Dr Huseyin Dogan said, “We would like to increase awareness of assistive technologies for teachers, teaching assistants and support staff through the EduAbility recommender tool and training package. We are currently evaluating EduAbility with Dorset and Hampshire schools before considering an international release. Countries such as Malta, Malaysia and South Africa are significantly interested in a localised version of our solution. We also aim to create an international Hub of Practice for educators to share best practices. Equality, diversity, and inclusivity through the provision of accessible assistive technologies is an essential part of research”.
Dr Whittington and Dr Dogan are also developing a SmartAbility Framework, which maps assistive technologies to users’ physical abilities, to provide recommendations to help support activities that allow greater independence of individuals.
Dr Whittington has lived experience of using assistive technologies and said, “It is very important to promote awareness of assistive technologies, to provide support to lead a more independent life, which has been invaluable throughout my education and employment. A single assistive technology solution is not suitable for everyone, and a variety of different technologies are required, in order to provide optimum support for individual requirements. Assistive technology is a continuously evolving market, with new innovations being developed to further improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.”
Other research conducted by the team include a cyber security project called Authentibility Pass. This Android app allows people with disabilities to communicate their authentication and accessibility requirements to organisations. The aim of Authentibility is to improve customer satisfaction, as organisations would receive accessibility requirements in advance of a customer’s visit. Dr Dogan and Dr Whittington are also working on an initiative called HealthAbility, to customise Authentibility for the healthcare domain and allow patients with disabilities to communicate their needs to clinicians and hospital staff via an app.
The Human Computer Interaction Research Group (BUCHI) is also working on projects related to subtitles, speechreading, in-car interfaces, and accessibility of web content.
Bournemouth University are actively involved in the Assistive and Accessible Technology (Atech) Policy Lab, alongside Policy Connect and Ace Centre, to support the creation of good policy to support equality in the UK across a range of sectors and interventions.
For more information about the work of BU’s academics, visit the Assistive Technology pages of the BU website.