Assistive Technology Research Institute


The Assistive Technology Research Institute (ATRI) at Misericordia University is a regional resource to provide information and education in the application of assistive technology and universal design principles to allow individuals with limited function to participate in their personal lives and their communities to the greatest extent possible.

The Institute activities include research into the usability of devices and products that are specifically marketed to allow individuals with disabilities improved function (assistive technologies) and products that are intended for the general population, but have been designed to be usable by people with functional restrictions as well as able-bodied individuals.

The Institute is not an engineering center, and does not evaluate the engineering soundness of products. The focus of the Institute is on the usability of devices by a diverse population.

WBRE news story about Misericordia University's role in developing assistive technology.

Mission, Vision & Market

Mission

The mission of the ATRI is to generate and disseminate knowledge supporting the use of assistive and universal technologies to allow individuals with disabilities and/or reduced function to participate to the greatest extent possible in their personal lives and their communities. Active participation by students at Misericordia University will facilitate both their academic and professional development within their respective disciplines.

Vision

The Assistive Technology Research Institute(ATRI) will be the regional leader and primary resource for the application of knowledge related to assistive technology and universal design to improve the independence, productivity, and quality of life of individuals with functional limitations.

Market

Much of the built environment is designed by, and designed for, young, able-bodied people. A significant portion of the population, whether through accident, disease, or normal aging processes, has experienced a reduced level of vision, hearing, mobility, strength and/or coordination that makes full participation in life both inside and outside the home difficult or impossible. ATRI's activities are intended to allow these individuals to more fully participate in their lives and communities.

ATRI Staff and Research Associates

Denis Anson, MS, OTR/L
Director of Research & Development of ATRI
Phone: (570) 674-6413
Fax: (570) 674-3052
danson@misericordia.edu


Denis Anson, MS, OTR/LDenis Anson graduated from the University of Washington in 1980 with a bachelor's degree of occupational therapy. In 1983, he received a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Washington. He worked in adult physical disabilities for six years, and was a lecturer in the Division of Occupational Therapy at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington for nine years. In August, 1997, he became an Assistant Professor at Misericordia and in 2005, became the Director of Research and Development of the Assistive Technology Research Institute. In 2012 he joined the Speech-Language Pathology Department at Misericordia.

Denis has been actively involved in computer and assistive technology applications for rehabilitation for over two decades. He has international recognition for his expertise in the application of assistive technology to occupational therapy and the process of rehabilitation. He has presented numerous papers at national, regional, and state conferences on assistive technology. He was one of the founding members of the Tech-SIS board and is a past member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT). He is a past-member of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Board of Directors and Meetings Committee. In addition to his many publications on assistive technology, he is the author of Alternative Computer Access: A Guide to Selection. In 2003, he was honored for his work in the field of assistive technology by being made a RESNA Fellow, the highest honor of that organization. In 2004, he was the Cliff Brubaker Lecturer at University of Pittsburgh, and in 2006, was inducted into the RESNA Hall of Fellows.

Computer Access and Resources

Computer Access and Resources

Welcome to the ATRI Computer Access Resources Page. Information access for people with functional limitations has been a core interest at ATRI since its inception.

The resources on this page are of three types.

Product Reviews

As we have the opportunity to experience alternative access technologies, we will post our findings here. These reviews will be as objective as we can make them, and will be based on decades of experience in this area. However, the needs of different people are different, so it is entirely possible that a product that we don't like will be just what you need.
If you have a product that you would like to have reviewed, please contact atri@misericordia.edu, and we will arrange a review.

Access Resources not on the ATRI site

Some very good computer access resources are commercial, but downloadable. Others are free, but the developers need to track usage. In these cases, we will post links to the hosting site of the resources.

Access Resources on the ATRI site

We are constantly collecting resources, and will post them to the ATRI site, so that you can, in many cases, download the resources you need directly from ATRI.
Included in the ATRI On-Site resources will be many of the applications formerly available via the Trace website.

Research Projects in AT and Universal Design Conducted at MU

Research Projects in Assistive Technology and Universal Design Conducted at Misericordia University


Typing Styles in Current Usage

    • Authors: Denis Anson, MS, OTR, Courtney Otto, OTS, Melissa Templeton, OTS,
      Jenna Rakowsky, OTS, Hannah Muller, OTS, and Alicia Bryk, OTS
    • Year: Spring, 2011

The Elder Interface: Changing the Computer Experience by Accommodating the Sensory and Motor Changes of Normal Aging

    • Author: Denis Anson, MS, OTR/L
    • Year: Fall, 2006

The Elder Interface: Adapting Computers for Older Adults

    • Author: Denis Anson, MS, OTR/L
    • Year: Spring 2006

Resources for AT Research

Resources & Reports: Effects of Disaster on Individuals with Disability

Resources and Reports Regarding the Effect of Disaster on Individuals with Disability

Current Research Projects

Current Research Projects

  • The Elder Interface
    • Researcher: Denis Anson
    • This project is seeking to identify changes to the standard computer interface that will improve access by elders. The identified changes will be either alterations of settings to the default computer, or no-cost/low cost add-ons to modify the operation of the computer.
  • Long-Term Functional Impact of Wheeled Mobility
    • Researcher: Denis Anson
    • It has been well documented that a high proportion of young wheelchair users develop injuries to their shoulders, elbows, and wrists over time. The affect of manual and powered mobility on the function of older wheelchair users has not been documented. This longitudinal study will track the levels of functional independence of older users of manual and powered mobility devices to assess changes .
  • Who Makes the Grade?: A Study of Dragon Naturally Speaking and Speak-Q Voice Recognition with Children
    • Researchers: Catherine Dempsey, Bethany McCullough, Elizabeth Mistrik, Amanda Morgan
    • Speak-Q is a new, novel approach to speech recognition, using it as an assist to conventional typing rather than as a replacement for the keyboard and mouse. The different feature set of Speak-Q makes a traditional comparison of products meaningless. This study will evaluate relative productivity of school-age children using Dragon Naturally Speaking or Speak-Q, to assess the usability of these products with a school-age population.
  • Text Generation: A Comparison of Dasher Software and Wivik Keyboard with a Chubon Overlay
    • Researchers: Marissa Maglioli, OTS, Chrissy Mancia, OTS, Christine Swink, OTS
    • Dasher is a new, novel input method for text that has little similarity to any other available input tool. This study will assess the utility of this product for text generation as compared with a more traditional on-screen keyboard.
  • Comparison of Single Digit Keyboards
    • Vanessa Klotz, OTS, Ashley Light, OTS, Angela Sancinella, OTS, Johnna Schickram, OTS
    • This study is comparing the efficacy of two competing single-digit keyboard layouts. The Chubon keyboard layout, developed in 1988, is included in a number of on-screen keyboards as the "Frequency Based" layout. The Fitaly keyboard was designed as an on-screen keyboard, and does not use the conventional 101 key keyboard layout. This study will compare the typing speeds achieved by typical novice users of these device.
  • Efficacy of three infrared head-pointing devices for mouse emulation tasks
    • Amanda Berry, Stacie Hershey, Janine Hoffman and Emily Usinowicz
    • This study is examining the relative performance of the three head-pointing assistive technology devices that are currently readily available for use by individuals with disabilities. These devices are the HeadMouse Extreme, for Origin Instruments; Tracker One, from Madentec Limited; and the SmartNav, from Naturalpoint.
  • Chubon & Dvorak: A Comparison of Alternative Keyboard Layouts
    • Denis Anson, MS, OTR/L, Jacqueline Doninetz, OTS, Christine Hess, OTS, Tara Kelly, OTS, & Kimberly Roig, OTS
    • This study is part of a series to establish a standard metric for alternative text input systems. Historically, nearly all comparisons of alternative keyboard layouts have indicated that the QWERTY layout, the standard for computer keyboards, is the best, in spite of its known ergonomic deficiencies. This study, combined with past studies comparing the Chubon with QWERTY and Dvorak with QWERTY will form the basis of a demonstration that new technologies can be compared against a standard measure, in order to provide relative utility information, which will be available on the ATRI website.
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