Enabling Envionments Lab

Laptop shows different parts of home to navigate.

Overcoming Physical Barriers at Home and Work

The Enabling Environments Laboratory identifies environmental barriers to activity and participation of people with and without functional limitations (due to disability or age) and develops enabling designs and technologies to overcome those barriers.  It focuses primarily on physical spaces and virtual places in home and community settings.


Current Projects

Survey Platform Accessibility
AMAC is currently evaluating multiple online survey platforms in terms of accessibility.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technologies to Support Successful Aging with Disability
(RERC TechSAge)

TechSAge is a national research center focused on how universally designed technology can assist people with disabilities as they age.  The center includes both research and development projects.


Identify User Needs for People Aging with Disability
To obtain a better understanding of what technology supports are needed and how to design them, this project is determining the relationships between an individual’s function and 1) his/her ability to perform home-based tasks and 2) his/her use of interventions for these tasks.


Effects of Hearing Loss on Mobility and Participation of People Aging with Vision Disability

Individuals with vision disabilities often rely on audio cues when performing activities, but they may experience hearing loss as they get older.  This project is exploring the impact of hearing loss on use of compensatory strategies and assistive technology devices and on activity and participation outcomes. It will also develop guidelines for sound characteristics that can be effectively used with this population to facilitate device use and mobility.


TeleWellness Technologies

This project is examining the potential for telerobotic systems to support activity and social interaction of older adults. Studies will systematically assess telerobot acceptance; determine effectiveness of telerobot exercise interventions; and determine the characteristics necessary to enable older adults with hearing loss and age-related mobility limitations to control a telerobot.


App Development to Promote Successful Aging with Disability

This project is developing a series of mobile apps to meet consumer and clinician needs.  Several projects have been identified; additional apps will be selected via an open call.


Cognitive Training Game

Little is known about the effectiveness or usability of computer-based “brain games” for cognitive training for older adults with disabilities. In this development project we will use a previously developed game, Food For Thought, as a starting point to develop, study, and deploy a cognitive training game that is usable by people aging with mild/moderate motor disabilities, such as MS or Parkinson’s, who are experiencing age-related sensory loss.



An App for Locational Intelligence and Geospatial Navigation (ALIGN)

The ALIGN mobile app will inform outdoor route planning by people aging with ambulatory disabilities who are also experiencing other functional losses.  The app provides information about various characteristics of the route, including the presence of sidewalks and their condition, nearby public transit, the presence of traffic signals and acoustic signals, landscape overgrowth, and the steepness of the path.


A Mobile Application to Measure Gait Speed

The purpose of this project is to develop a reliable, simple, and cost-effective mobile app to measure gait speed and demonstrate the feasibility of this measure as a predictive tool to identify risk of functional decline and activity limitation in frail elders who are aging with ambulatory disability.


SmartBathroom Technologies

This project is developing and evaluating the effectiveness of a bathroom environment that continuously monitors a user’s functional status (e.g., gait, balance, posture) and based on the data, immediately adjusts environmental features (e.g., grab bar position, fixtures) to meet user needs.


Mobile Manipulator Robot

This project is developing and evaluating a robotic system that learns and adapts to a user’s needs for assistance.  By doing so, the robot will respond to situational needs with an appropriate level of assistance, thus enabling an individual to perform everyday tasks for him/herself.