Navigation Links
Removing the barriers of autism
Date:8/31/2009

Autism can build a wall of poor communication between those struggling with the condition and their families. While a personal computer can help bridge the divide, the distraction and complexity of a keyboard can be an insurmountable obstacle.

Using a unique keyboard with only two "keys" and a novel curriculum, teachers with Project Blue Skies are giving children with autism the ability to both communicate and to explore the online world.

At the heart of the project is a device called the OrbiTouch. Human-factors engineer Pete McAlindon of BlueOrb in Maitland, Fl., conceived of the concept behind the OrbiTouch more than a decade ago as a way to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome and provide computer access to people with limited or no use of their fingers.

Developed with the support of two National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research awards (9661259 and 9801506), the concept of representing keyboard strokes with paired movements was critical to the design from the start.

"If you are unable to use a keyboard and mouse effectively or at all because of a physical disability, what chance do you have of using a computer?," asked McAlindon. "The OrbiTouch is designed to keep people with physical or developmental disabilities connected to their computers."

The Project Blue Skies curriculum is based on the functions of the OrbiTouch, which allows a user to input letters, symbols and any other command by independently manipulating two computer-mouse shaped grips forward, back, diagonally and to the sides.

For people with carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as other hand and finger ailments, the motions driving the OrbiTouch are far kinder than those for a keyboard.

With Project Blue Skies, the hardware is matched to lesson plans, training aids such as games, and assessment tools. The two-grip device is ideal for people with autism because it is less distracting than a keyboard and does not require finger motion.

In addition, the various letter and number combinations are created by matching color schemes indicated on the two grips, so the training curriculum matches well to a game-like environment.

Teachers guide the students and monitor their progress, ultimately helping the kids better communicate with their families. While the primary goal of Project Blue Skies is to help people with autism develop stronger social skills, McAlindon is working with partners to start integrating standard coursework into the program.

"I have watched Pete McAlindon grow and change over the last decade," said Sara Nerlove, now program director for NSF's Partnerships for Innovation program. "He has taken the concept that he developed as dissertation research, and using his skills as a human factors engineer, turned it into a very creative device to help people with disabilities. The result of his skill and persistence is the evolution of his technology into an ingenious adaptation, one that makes his goal of providing for persons with disabilities a sustainable effort."

McAlindon continues to work with his colleagues to find applications for his approach, most recently applying the system to video game controllers, allowing hundreds of thousands of online gamers to say goodbye to their keyboards using BlueOrb's Switchblade software. The gaming approach grew exponentially last year when it was paired to the launch of one of the largest online multiplayer games in the world.


'/>"/>

Contact: Joshua A. Chamot
jchamot@nsf.gov
703-292-7730
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Removing Ovaries Before Menopause Leads to Memory, Movement Troubles
2. Wal-Mart & Nalgene Removing Toxic Bottles, Place Consumers Concerns First
3. Indoor Allergy Week - Cleanaer™, the New Air Purifier that Helps Prevent Spread of the Common Cold While Removing Airborne Allergen
4. Remedy for Cracked Heels and Removing Calluses
5. National Multiple Sclerosis Society Commends President Obamas Initial Steps in Removing the Bans on Embryonic Stem Cell Research
6. Removing Medical Device Preemption Impacts Jobs, Health Care Costs, Patient Access
7. Revisions to College Cost Reduction and Access Act will create barriers to primary care
8. New Academic Analysis Identifies Three Barriers to Achieving Healthy and Achievable Policies to Combat Obesity in America
9. Language barriers adversely impact health-care quality
10. New study shows low-income families face 3 barriers to health care
11. Breaking Down Barriers to End-of-Life Care for Children
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... 24, 2017 , ... Congratulations to Head Over Heels’ elite ... 12th. Ms. Esparza qualified into this prestigious status after winning the Vault, ... Vegas, Nevada. Frida is one of approximately 25 gymnasts in the nation who ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... Thinksport, the most ... Jensie Gran Fondo of Marin. For the second year in a row, cyclists ... sunscreen. , “We are thrilled to provide our safe, non-toxic sunscreen to over ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... CO (PRWEB) , ... February 23, 2017 , ... The ... announce the winner of the 2016 National Education Policy Center Bunkum Award. We invite ... reviewed in 2016. , This year’s Bunkum winner is the Center for American Progress ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... Rare Disease ... will be participating in Rare Disease Day events, hosted by the Rare Disease ... Disease Report, a website, weekly e-newsletter and quarterly publication, will be conducting interviews ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... first two episodes of WE TV’s “Mama June: From Not to Hot,” which will ... TV notable, “Mama” June Shannon, known to millions from the 2012 reality television series, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... 2017 Research and Markets has announced the addition ... report to their offering. ... The latest research Menopause Drugs Price Analysis and Strategies - 2016, provides ... research answers the following questions: What are ... they positioned in the Global Menopause market? What are ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... , Feb. 23, 2017 Research and ... Analysis and Strategies - 2016" report to their offering. ... The latest research ... data and benchmarks in the global Fibromyalgia market. The ... the key drugs marketed for Fibromyalgia and their clinical attributes? How ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... 23, 2017 Obese people are ... for varicose veins in their body. The rising number ... the adoption of endovenous laser therapy for treatment of ... laser therapy market, published by Future Market Insights, ... and consequences of obesity have collectively factored the growth ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: