Submissions List TBI Interagency Conference

New Cognitive Curbcuts for Independent Living: Innovations in Accessible Personal Wellness, Video Modeling, and Self-Management Software

  • Keating, Tom


Applications of technology to the needs of people with disabilities


This session demonstrates cognitively accessible self-management systems for everyday life:  the prototype HealthChecker web-based physical and mental well-being self assessment;  the new ScanDo! video modeling app and web site; and the Picture Planner visual scheduler with social support engagement system;


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Mobile platforms together with Web services such as Google Calendar, Facebook, and Twitter have emerged as important means for interactive accomplishment of work tasks and social and professional networking. These are all examples of Web 2.0 services that have transformed the Internet from a medium for simple retrieval of information into an interactive community whose members create and exchange information and support each other in virtual communities around the world. It is that participatory nature of the Web 2.0 environment, with its potential to decrease social isolation, expand employment opportunities, and enhance social networks, that offers tremendous value to users with disabilities. Many users with cognitive disabilities, however, are excluded from direct participation in these online environments because the threshold for reading ability, technological literacy, and interface comprehension is too high. There is a need for cognitively accessible points of access to technology services, what we refer to as  "cognitive curbcuts", just as physical curbcuts provide on-ramps to sidewalks and the means to access physical stores and services.

This session demonstrates several software applications developed through our projects with this goal in mind. HealthChecker is a prototype web-based application developed with Phase 1 NIDRR SBIR funding that provides a cognitively accessible means for users to assess their physical and mental well-being and to share assessment results with family, caregivers, or medical providers.

ScanDo! is a new web site and iOS app allowing iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users to scan a product bar code or QR code and view video or text-based instructions for accomplishing tasks related to work, household, or community activities. The companion web site provides cognitively accessible browser-based access to view task instructions without the need for a mobile device, and also creates a connected community of users and authors around the need for video modeling and task prompting.

We will also demonstrate the evolution of the Picture Planner icon-based visual calendaring application as a cognitively accessible portal for information sharing (a cognitive curbcut as defined above.) Picture Planner includes innovative features to enhance cognitively accessible calendaring on both desktop and mobile platforms. Prominent among these are apps for Apple iOS devices that enable users to create activity schedules with a Mac or Windows desktop application, and sync them to iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Users may also publish their schedules to Google Calendar to share that information with selected members of their social network and can also initiate activity invitations from within Picture Planner. In this way Picture Planner in essence serves as a cognitively accessible portal to facilitate information sharing and allow users the opportunity to invite local friends and supporters to participate in or assist with real world activities, in effect leveraging the resources of their virtual social network to enhance real world community integration. At the same time, family members, friends, or others who live at a distance can get up to date information about the user’s activities.

The session will briefly demonstrate these applications and the design innovations that enhance usability and cognitive accessibility. Questions and participation by session attendees are encouraged.