Inclusive design and accessible tech in the spotlight at Univ. of Washington student showcase

Kayak Adaptation team members gather in front of their poster and a kayak with one of their attachments. From left to right: Isabella Garcia, Johanna Dickie, Gavin Chan, Talal Mustafa. (Leslie Fisher Photo)

An app that helps blind and deaf people find bus arrival information. An attachment to make kayaking easier for individuals with upper limb differences. A system to automatically detect falls for the elderly population.

University of Washington students from across various disciplines showed off their work on campus Thursday at the HuskyADAPT Inclusive Design Engineering Showcase.

Students worked alongside individuals with disabilities to design technology for rock climbing, making art, using an iPad, and more. Team members from departments ranging from psychology to computer science came together to work on the projects through a student organization or a related course.

Projects were proposed by local individuals, nonprofits, or government groups, said Kat Steele, a UW professor and HuskyADAPT advisor. HuskyADAPT aims “to foster an inclusive, sustainable, and multidisciplinary community at the University of Washington to support the development of accessible design and play technology,” according to its website.

Students and community members gather on campus for the HuskyADAPT Inclusive Design Engineering Showcase. (Leslie Fisher Photo)

The OneBuzzAway team, whose name derives from popular transportation app OneBusAway, won the Impact Award, as voted on by attendees at Thursday’s event. Team members developed an app to help blind and deaf individuals know when their bus is coming and when to get off the bus.

Ali Alghfeli, part of OneBuzzAway team, said the existing solution was to hold up large information cards for the bus driver while waiting at a bus stop, often for a long time. The OneBuzzAway team worked with a blind and deaf needs expert to build a better solution. Their app vibrates to tell the user what’s going on, displays information in large, high-contrast text, and works with a braille keyboard.

“A blind person might use it, a blind-deaf person might use it, a normal person might use it,” Alghfeli said. “And all that’s just within the features that we have after [one quarter].”

The Accessible Art team won the Voices Award for including the visions of users and partners. Students developed a system to make art more accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. Participants using their solution can create wire art with textured pipe cleaners, for example. From there, they can trace their creations into an app to play music based on the wire’s shape.

The Oriented Stylus team came up with a stylus for people with muscular impairments or cognitive disabilities like cerebral palsy. The stylus has two functional ends to make it easier to pick up and use, as well as a wide center to help people with less strength in their hands hold on more easily.

Noah Adamek, a student on the Oriented Stylus team, holds up a stylus for people with muscular impairments or cognitive disabilities like cerebral palsy. (Leslie Fisher Photo)

The Inclusive Design Award went to the Kayak Adaptation team, which created arm and kayak attachments to make kayaking easier for individuals with upper limb differences. The Prototype Award went to the Bike Alignment Designs, which developed bike attachments to make it easier for individuals with spasticity to peddle.

A variety of donors sponsored HuskyADAPT projects. The main donor is the Mathers Fund to Empower Improve Human Ability, which was created by Carolee and Tom Mathers.

“We’ve really enjoyed seeing how brilliant these kids are with what they’re doing,” Carolee Mathers said. “They’re very creative.”

The Mathers decided to fund these projects two years ago after seeing a TV special about a little girl who couldn’t use her hand but wanted to play the drums. UW mechanical engineering students had developed a solution so her dream could come true.

The Climbing Higher team developed rock climbing holds that change color where a climber has recently held on. These holds can help individuals with certain cognitive disabilities know where to put their hands while following a buddy up the rock. This climbing hold shows a fresh color mark made by team member Ruby Davis.

Going forward, members of the public can submit project ideas for next year’s HuskyADAPT students here.

Here are all projects featured at the showcase, with descriptions from UW:

  • ENABLE Device Tracking: Designing a wearable sensor solution to track hand motion with a 3D-printed partial palm prosthetic designed by e-NABLE, a community of volunteer prosthetic makers. (Estelle Jiang, Jennifer Chiu, Marika Ridder, Selina Teng)
  • ENABLE User Experience: Interviewing individuals with limb loss, prosthetic designers, and makers to improve the design and usability of assistive technology. (Rachel Rodney, Carrie Ding, Derick Yap)
  • Climbing Higher: Making rock climbing more accessible for people with cognitive disabilities. (Jenny Lee, Ruby Davis, Catherine Newton)
    Wild Thing Mobility: Adapting the WildThing to enable early powered mobility for children with disabilities. (Huiran Li, Aisha Azmi, Jungeon Choi, Junhao Li, Qilang Ding)
  • Wireless Switch Innovation: Constructing a universal wireless transmitter and receiver to establish a wireless connection between switches and adapted toys. (Eric Hodac, Ed Van Bruggen, Kameron Vuong, Amanda Ki, Aisha Azmi, Katherine Zhao)
  • Kayak Adaptation: Making kayaking easier and more comfortable for individuals with upper limb differences. (Gavin Chan, Johanna Dickie, Isabella Garcia, Laura Irons, Talal Mustafa, Trinh Vo)
  • Oriented Stylus: Designing an accessible and functional stylus solution that is more easily orientable and accessible than a traditional stylus. (Jeffrey Wang, Isabella Heppe, Valentina Valero Nieto, Noah Adamek, Michelle Lin)
  • Bike Alignment Designs: Designing attachments for a recumbent bike to improve the pedaling biomechanics for individuals with spasticity. (Will Lin, Kaya Bramble, Bonne Leung, Hunter Bos, Eyad Alsilimy)
  • Elderly Fall Monitoring: Constructing a system to automatically detect falls in the community to help prevent injuries, inform clinicians, and improve care and future quality of life. (Kaleb Vuong, Nora Morsi, Kyle Won, Aadi Jain, Aaditya Desai, Declan Edgecomb)
  • Accessible Art Designs: Creating a micro-installation that is a multi-sensory experience that makes art more accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired by using tactile and auditory elements. (Tina Lis, Lucy Jiang)
  • MACKccessMaps: Accessible rerouting on-the-fly, building on top of AccessMap. (Celeste Cayetano, Ken Dong, Andrew Luo, Mimi Ruo)
  • Polaris: Crowdsourced information on bus stops, integrated with OneBusAway. (Yuma Tou, Dylan Jergens, Kyle Pierce, Tyler Mi)
  • Isocontours for pedestrian access. (Cosmo Wang)
  • Walksheds: Analyzing city-scale geo-data to build public service walkshed dashboard for all pedestrians. (Shenghao Xie, Matt Choi)
  • Learning the Sidewalks: Using a neural net to classify pedestrian environments. (Phillip Hoang, Pranesh Jambula)
  • Sidewalk Data Validation for pedestrian access (Phuong Tran)

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