1. Top KPR blog posts for 2019
The KPR blog addresses issues and challenges related to computing accessibility for people with motor impairments. Our guide to hands-free mice was the most popular post of the year. Here are a few more of our most popular posts:
- Highlights from the ATIA 2019 Conference – Part 2
- 13 considerations for choosing a hands-free mouse
- Morse code typing for the iPad
- Your guide to 10+ one-hand typing options
- How to freehand draw using iOS Switch Control
I like to write about things that people really want to know about but may not have time to delve into on their own. For example, a lot of our posts are inspired by questions that people post to the QIAT listserv.
Please send me any ideas you have for topics that would be helpful to you!
2. Compass software
KPR’s Compass software for access assessment is the only software that we actually sell. (Our other 6 software titles are completely free to use.) Compass helps AT professionals perform computer access evaluations with individuals who have motor impairments. This year, we released Compass version 3.0, and were pleased to make it available at Westminster Technologies.
If you’re not familiar with Compass, you can get a basic overview and a free trial at our main Compass page.
3. AT-node software
We continue to update our free AT-node site. AT-node lets you search the published research on the use of computer access interfaces by people with disabilities. It contains text entry rate (typing speed) reported for computer users with physical disabilities, across all available studies since 1989. Data can be retrieved in a number of ways, including by interface (e.g., typing speed for people using speech recognition) or diagnosis (e.g., typing speed for people with cerebral palsy).
We added a few new features to AT-node in 2019:
- Updated the histogram visualization to be more fun and provide more information about each data point. It also allows filtering on the fly, to look at subsets of data such as school-aged children. The animated GIF below gives an idea of how that works.
- Added a URL api to the software. This means that if you search the AT-node database for, say, all data on people with cervical spinal cord injury, you can easily share those search results with anyone else, just by copy-pasting the URL.
- Added data from latest articles, so the database is up-to-date through 2018. These include data on typing using a tongue interface and a terrific case study on the impact of fairly simple keyboard supports. (Articles from 2019 will be added soon!)
4. Assistive technology outcomes research
Jim Lenker, Roger Smith, and I completed a major article describing a framework for developing a national cloud-based system of AT outcomes measurement. This framework emerged from structured discussions with clinicians, researchers, and manufacturers. Free fulltext downloads are available for a limited time at this link: Toward a national system of assistive technology outcomes measurement. (And if you have trouble getting fulltext from that link, please contact me and I can send you a PDF.)
Everyone in our discussion groups agreed that there is a strong need for an AT outcome measurement system, but making it happen is a major endeavor. If you are interested in contributing to this effort, or just want to learn more, let me know.
5. KPR website
This falls in the category of technical details that take me a long time to do, have to be done, but have no obvious short-term benefit. I spent some time moving the KPR website to a new host, setting up SSL (allowing us to use the https: prefix), registering with Google Search Console, among other housekeeping chores.
The reason I mention this is not just to whine, but to let you know that the KPR website URL has changed to https://kpronline.com. You’ll still get to the site if you use http://www.kpronline.com, or something similar, but https://kpronline.com is a better one to use.
Continued to chip in with service to the field, including:
- Associate editor of RESNA’s AT Journal
- Member of the RESNA Research Committee
- ATIA Strand Advisor
- Reviewer for National Institute of Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) DRRP grant applications
If you’re curious about any of these activities, please let me know. Both RESNA and ATIA are great organizations — you meet terrific people and learn a lot while helping out a great organization. The grant reviewing is very time-consuming but well-organized and a great way to get behind the scenes and learn more about the process.
I also had the privilege of collaborating with Janice Light and the RERC on AAC team on their grant application for a new 5-year cycle of funding in 2019. We spent a good portion of two months developing this proposal, but unfortunately came in second in the competition. I’m sure the winning proposal was an excellent one, but the loss of the RERC on AAC is a huge loss to the field. I can’t think of a more productive Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center that has yielded more applicable and usable outcomes. If you’ve used apps like SnapScene, Go Visual, Saltillo Chat, or any Invotek product, you’ve used their work. (Learn more at https://rerc-aac.psu.edu/). Fingers crossed that 2020 will bring new opportunities for this group to continue their work.
Moving forward into 2020
I love the assistive technology field, and I remain open to collaborating on new research projects. But I’ve definitely shifted KPR’s emphasis away from pursuing research funding and toward knowledge translation and awareness building. We’ll continue to focus on that in 2020.
I’ll also be spending more time on climate action and get-out-the-vote activities in 2020. This is likely to take some time away from my assistive technology work, but hopefully I can make a positive contribution in all three areas.
Thanks for being part of the KPR community, and please let me know how I can support your work in 2020!