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AbleLink Awarded New Grant to Improve Cognitive Access to Facebook

August 18, 2011

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) has awarded AbleLink Technologies a new Phase I SBIR Grant that will start October 1st. A short summary of this project is provided below:

Project Title: Development and Evaluation of an Independently Usable Interface to Facebook for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

Project Start Date: 10/1/2011

Principal Investigator: Daniel K. Davies

Funding Agency: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)

The social isolation issues of individuals with intellectual disabilities are well documented in the literature. New social networking technologies have served to provide a popular format for increasing one form of human socialization opportunities world wide. Challenges to independent access to social networking sites for individuals with intellectual disabilities include excessively featured, cluttered interfaces and primarily text-based interfaces. Facebook, with over 500 million current users, is among the most popular social networking sites. While entities such as the American Federation for the Blind have begun making inroads to improving the accessibility of Facebook for citizens with visual impairments, no such effort has been undertaken for students and adults with intellectual disabilities. This project proposes development and evaluation of a software interface into Facebook that is independently usable by individuals with intellectual disabilities, including those with limited or no literacy skills. The software system will provide a multimedia (e.g., voice recording, icons, text to speech) interface, a customizable filtering tool to limit screen features, specially developed security features, and computer-generated prompts to guide the user through the system interface. Development tools will include Corona in conjunction with Facebook’s Software Development Kit (SDK. It will culminate in a feasibility study to determine if the simplified multimedia interface approach can significantly increase independent access to the most commonly used Facebook features for students and adults with intellectual disabilities.

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For more information contact:
Rich Herold
AbleLink Technologies
719.592.0347, Ext. 121
rich@ablelinktech.com

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