A prototype of a reading tool that fits on the index finger and aims to assist individuals with vision impairments access printed text has been developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The FingerReader was developed using a 3D printer and uses vibrations to alert users when they stray from the text.
Researchers at Notre Dame University and University of Southern California are studying how robots can supplement traditional therapies for individuals for disabilities. At Notre Dame, researchers are using talking robots to teach children with autism how to interact socially. At USC, robots are assisting stroke patients with exercises as part of physical therapy.
People with disabilities must be actively involved in disaster and emergency planning, said Marcie Roth, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Office of Disability Integration and Coordination. More efforts are being made nationwide to include people with disabilities in emergency planning, including the Alianza Emergency Preparedness Project, which involves families in planning and preparing for emergencies.
A Washington state school district, where students with special needs are taught in inclusive classrooms, has a program to help students with developmental disabilities make the transition from high school to independent living and the workplace. Since its creation in 2004, the Transition Academy has served students ages 18 to 21 with life-skills lessons plus job training that has helped many secure paying positions at local businesses.
A special-education teacher at Skyview Middle School in Oakdale, Minn., has students with special needs learning math and social skills through a new school-based popcorn business. Teacher Gary Downing secured a grant to start the program for his students in the school's Communication and Interactional Disorders program. Proceeds from the sales are used to sustain the business and provide funding for other special-education projects.