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MyLife: Development of a Cloud-Based Transition ePortfolio for Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities (2014-2017)

NIDILRR Award #H133G140192

Students with cognitive disabilities face significant challenges to involvement in transition planning and realizing meaningful outcomes in employment, post-secondary educational opportunities, and independent living. The purpose of this project is:
(1) Develop a cloud-based application, MyLife, enabling shared creation and management of an electronic transition portfolio for secondary transition students with cognitive disabilities such as autism and intellectual disability. Using a multi-media online portfolio can enhance self-directed behavior and overcome the difficulty of demonstrating skills and aptitudes by providing evidence of achievements, skills, and experience in the form of videos, audio recordings, and other media.
(2) Evaluate the application through a usability field study to aid iterative development followed by a repeated measures study to assess impact of the full application on self-determination and transition outcomes. The latter study will employ a within subjects repeated measures research design over a 12 week period, with planned comparisons of dependent measures consisting of application usage assessments, goal attainment scaling of transition outcomes, and self determination assessment.

Usability testing and research activities will involve a total 50 students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities and their teachers, family members, employers, and transition service providers. Testing and evaluation will be conducted in collaboration with a midsized Oregon school district transition program serving 18-21 year olds pursuing a modified diploma. Dissemination of results will occur through distribution of the resulting cloud-based application, submission of peer-reviewed papers, and presentations at academic, computing, and educational technology conferences reaching a cross section of researchers, developers, educators, and families.

The goal of the MyLife e-Portfolio is to provide a cognitively accessible life experience communication tool that grows and changes throughout transition and later life, providing an easily accessible life and work history in appropriate formats to students with disabilities, families, educators, and other transition team members.

Expected outcomes of MyLife usage include increased student involvement in transition planning and management, increased skill in using a multimedia software application, increased self-determination, and social validation of MyLife by students and team members based on satisfaction with its value as a tool for self-direction and team collaboration. Long-term expectations include improved transition outcomes in employment and other post-secondary goals, and a successful technology transfer process that demonstrates a return on NIDRR’s investment and contributes to program performance measures of the agency’s funding.

Integrating Assistive Technology into Affordable Housing and Long-Term Supports for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities (2004-2007).

ERI is currently engaged in a three year contract with the State of Oregon Department of Human Services, Office on Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Under this contract, ERI is assisting DHS to implement a Real Choice Systems Change Grant, Expanding Housing and Supports for Oregonians, from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ERI's activities focus on the unrealized potential of assistive technology to improve housing supports and quality of life for seniors and persons with disabilities.

There is a gap between availability of innovative technology and effective implementation particularly as it pertains to the needs of low income seniors and people with disabilities. Although lack of funding continues to be an issue, lack of infrastructure capacity represents a significant barrier to integration of assistive technology into affordable housing development and long-term supports. There is a need for mechanisms to promote systematic consideration of consumers' assistive technology needs as related to housing and long-term supports. There is also a need for innovative ways to educate and connect consumers, technical assistance providers, and property managers who are responsible for long-term supports in housing communities.

The purpose of this project is to:

  1. Review currently available technologies and identify infrastructure deficits that act as barriers to effective technology integration into housing for seniors and people with disabilities;
  2. Develop a plan for system change that will provide tools to promote the potential of assistive technology and result in its incorporation in key program planning and individual planning processes;
  3. Implement recommended infrastructure improvements and demonstration projects, and develop information resources and training materials for consumers, housing developers, case managers, families, contractors, and others.

Image: Oregon Department of Human Services logo
Oregon Office on Seniors and People with Disabilities

Image: Federal Cents for Medicare and Medicaid Services logo
Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
Real Choice Systems Change Grants

Image: Screenshot of Picture Planner main screen

Picture Planner™

The project that evolved into Picture Planner arose out of several other software development projects designed to help individuals with disabilities live more productive, satisfying, and independent lives.

Picture Planner™ is an icon (picture) based scheduling system that assists individuals with disabilities in planning and viewing activities by individual activity, day, week, or month. Picture Planner uses synthesized speech to provide feedback and aid in accessibility.

Picture Planner is highly customizable -- you may import pictures from any source. Picture Planner also includes a stock library of images to help you get started. You can add new users and easily schedule group activities for multiple users. And you can easily move, copy, and schedule repeating activities, all with an icon-driven software interface.

Picture Planner 2.0 was released commercially in October 2008 through Cognitopia Software LLC. For more information or to obtain a free demonstration copy, go to http://www.cognitopia.com.

For information about Picture Planner in its earlier phase of development, including a way to try it out online, click here: http://www.eugeneresearch.org/picture_planner.

Image: software boxes lined up on a shelf like books.

A Model for a Technology-Based Life Skills Curriculum for Secondary Students with Cognitive Disabilities (2001-2005)

Project Goals: develop and implement a model for a technology-based life skills curriculum for secondary students with significant cognitive disabilities, to evaluate the effectiveness of the model using multiple quantitative and qualitative methods, and to produce applications, materials, and procedures that will enable effective dissemination and replication of the model in a range of settings. There are several key outcomes that will result from this project, including a field-tested comprehensive technology-intensive approach to development of life skills for transition students with cognitive disabilities, and documentation on factors affecting software accessibility, technology use, and implementation across school, home, and community settings.

Image: IDEAS that work logo. Red text surrounded by blue sweeping arrow.
U.S. Department of Education,
Office of Special Education Programs
Award Number: H324M010064


Image: closeup of laptop including a corner of the screen and keyboard.

Information Technology Access for Adults with Cognitive Disabilities (2001-2004):
   Participatory Development of a Model for
   Software Accessibility, Training, and Support

Background and Purpose: Many persons with significant cognitive disabilities are excluded from the benefits of information technology despite the development of new devices and specialized software that support physical access. Commercial software remains largely inaccessible, and the training and technical support needs of these consumers are not addressed. The purpose of this project is to improve software accessibility, training, and user support for the population of persons with significant cognitive disabilities by building on our previous development of accessible life skills software and developing a participatory model for effective consumer training and support.

Image: NIDRR logo. White letters on blue background with an orange stylized dot over the letter I.
U.S. Department of Education,
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.
Award Number H133G010162

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