Research

Overview

Tech for All provides technical and management leadership for advanced research and development projects. Our work includes major contributions to the following grants awarded by the United States National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR):

Making Small Visual Displays Accessible to People with Vision Loss

TFA worked in collaboration with AFB TECH of the American Foundation for the Blind to establish a state of the art Optics Lab with unique capabilities to conduct full-scale optical measurements with the highest accuracy and flexibility for small visual displays. This research project ultimately helps industry to intelligently design and develop technology products usable to people with vision loss.

case with several small displays mounted for viewing

Advancing display design

The research conducted by Tech for All in the field of display technology will benefit users of all ages and abilities who use visual displays.

In-Flight Entertainment

Tech for All and WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media collaborated in a three-year program to make airline entertainment, communications, and information accessible to fliers with sensory disabilities. Airlines are increasingly offering travelers the use of handheld or embedded media and communication systems. Many in-flight entertainment systems (IFE) also allow passengers to independently access up-to-date flight information such as arrival times, information about connecting flights, and gate changes. This project developed solutions that can make in-flight communication and entertainment systems accessible to people with sensory disabilities. Solutions and resulting recommendations include the integration of captioning for video and audio, descriptive narration for visual images, and audio navigation for system menus and interface design.

aircraft seatback with entertainment system

Barrier Free Entertainment

Tech for All and WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media worked to improve in-flight entertainment and communication accessibility.

Universal eLearner

In collaboration with the American Foundation for the Blind in partnership with Bridge Multimedia and Pearson Digital Learning, Tech for All developed and tested a conceptual model of a Universal eLearner Platform (UeL). The UeL system, an online learning application for presenting educational material to K-12 students, is designed to be fully accessible to students with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive impairments, and students who are learning English as a second language. The web-based system presents separate user interfaces and workflows for students, teachers, and parents.

screenshots of the universal learner application

Accessible Learning System

The TFA team contributed to the Universal eLearner system. The web-based system is designed to be fully accessible to students with disabilities and students who are learning English as a second language.

Windows to the World

Information Technology for Independence: A Community-based Research Windows to the World: A Gateway to the Internet for Visually Impaired Users. In collaboration with the American Foundation for the Blind, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, TFA helped design a software system to make Web pages more accessible to visually impaired users. The Electronic Curb Cut project was created by the Health Information Management group in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. This project has developed a series of software tools, the most recent of which is the Access 2.1 Transcoder, a Web proxy server that transforms Web pages into a format that is more accessible for visually impaired users. The research study was a qualitative study to evaluate the effectiveness of the Access 2.1 Transcoder in improving the web browsing experience for blind users.

sidewalk with accessible curb cut ramp

The Electronic Curb Cut

The Tech for All team conducted an accessibility evaluation for University of Pittsburgh's Health Information Management group in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. The project name is a reference to sidewalk curb cuts that benefit users with disabilities as well as those without, such as people with strollers or hand trucks.

Publications

The TFA team has authored or co-authored numerous papers on accessibility, assistive technology, and universal design. Our work has been published in industry journals and assistive technology conference proceedings.
List of publications and papers authored by the TFA team.