In 2012, ADEC formed its Assistive Technology Research and Development Group. Currently, Don Wierenga serves as the Assistive Technology Director and works with Carl Yoder, our Assistive Technology Manager, on developing this program. This group represents a unique partnership between engineers and social service workers. By combining these knowledge bases, it has been possible to accurately address challenges, assess needs, and, ultimately, develop lasting solutions for the cognitively disabled.
In the two years since its founding, the group completed several projects with limited funding and manpower, all of which were developed for people with cognitive disabilities. Below are some descriptions of things ADEC has done in the past and what we are working on now:
- The Automated CNC Router (pictured above) is operated by push buttons. With this device, the cognitively impaired individual working in the woodshop can simply and safely fabricate wood products without any outside help or supervision. The machine can cut out projects, make signs and do etchings by pushing the necessary button.
- The Forget Me Lamp Project focused on creating a solution for cognitively disabled clients who frequently forget to turn their lamps off at home. This results in a larger power bill for the client, making it more difficult for them to live independently. The solution to this problem was to create an Arduino controlled device that resulted in a large button that the client pushed in order to turn the lamps on or off. This button also glows with an ambient light when the lights are off as a safety feature.
- The Big Red Button Project resulted easier user access to a DSLR camera by using a large button and an iPad. This allows cognitively and developmentally disabled individuals to explore photography, even if they do not possess fine motor skills. They can point the camera where they wish to shoot, use the iPad as a large view finder and then punch the “big red button” in order to take the picture.