Saturday, June 4, 2011

First Week at RSA by Margie

I went to an interesting meeting yesterday. The meeting was an all-Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) meeting that I went to on Wednesday….Day 2 of my internship. It was headed by Alexa Posny who is Assistant Secretary of Education. The meeting only lasted an hour but it was jam-packed full of information! Sue Swentzer presented about NIDRR grants (National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. NIDRR was written into Title II of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. NIDRR’s budget is $109 million this year and they are the flagship of US Disability Research.
There is an emphasis on the whole person interacting with society and the environment. A tension lies between scientific excellence and rigor and consumer relevance. That is a study can have a lot of scientific excellence but may not be appropriate or adaptable for “consumers” users of the developed technology.
These are only some of the recent accomplishments of NIDRR grant recipients:
Zero G Overground GAIT and Balance Training System worked with National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop a state-of-the-art harness system to teach individuals with the following disabilities how to walk: stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury (SCI), cerebral palsy(CP), and amputation. Also, this device can be used with small children as well.
If you google “spinal cord injury database” you come up with the National Spinal Cord Database. It’s the largest in the world. Here’s the link
Other selected projects were: Our very own Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind is a recipient of a NIDRR grant for its “Talking Map.” Here’s a shout out to my friends Hazel and Rak who have been awesome past interns at the Lighthouse.
Also, on the topic of projects for people who are blind and people who have visual impairments, SBIR GraniteTouch Graphics Inc. developed talking kiosks for two ferry terminals and one train station in New York City.
A good announcement for wheelchair users and fans of universal design everywhere! All new wheelchair accessible lavatories on the all-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
UCOM3 developed Math and Science American Sign Language (ASL) terminology.
So you can see that these NIDRR projects cut across many different disabilities! These are some very worthy recipients. And I’m looking forward to more interesting work with the Rehabilitation Services Administration!

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