Special Report: Assistive Tech

19 June 2017

Approximately 15 percent of people around the world—some 1 billion in all—have a disability, according to the World Bank. In this issue, we feature several IEEE members who are developing technologies that can help those who are blind, deaf, or have limited physical mobility.

IEEE Senior Member Siddhartha Srinivasa, founder of the Personal Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, is working on robots to help people with paralysis live independently. And IEEE Fellow Rory Cooper, a military veteran who suffered a spinal cord injury, has developed a robotic wheelchair that can give people a smooth ride over uneven terrain.

Another member, Juan Aceros, is leading the Adaptive Toy Project at the University of North Florida, in Jacksonville, which retrofits miniature ride-on cars and makes them accessible to kids with disabilities. We also feature IEEE Member Angelo Quattrociocchi, CTO of 3DPhotoWorks, a startup that’s creating tactile 3-D versions of classic paintings for museums so that blind people can experience artworks through touch. And we profile IEEE Member Conor Walsh, who designed a soft, robotic exosuit to help stroke patients and others to walk with less difficulty.

To help you stay abreast of what’s going on in the fields of accessible and assistive technology, we also rounded up IEEE resources including conferences, publications, and standards.

Feature Articles


IEEE Members Build Robots to Help People with Disabilities Live Independently

They include HERB the butler bot and MEBot, a high-tech all-terrain wheelchair


Three Life-Changing Innovations for People With Disabilities

Gadgets are designed to help the blind, deaf, or those with essential tremor


Adaptive Toy Project Transforms Ride-on Cars and Interactive Stuffed Animals for Special Needs Kids

IEEE student members work with physical therapists to retrofit off-the-shelf toys


Get Informed About Assistive Technology With These IEEE Resources

Members discuss their work on bionic limbs, soft robotics, and wearables for rehabilitation


Conferences Address Innovations to Improve Quality of Life

Events feature rehabilitation robots and brain-machine interfaces


3DPhotoWorks Makes Art More Accessible to the Blind

The startup’s printing technology helps people visualize images through touch


Timeline: The Evolution of Assistive Technologies

How devices to help people with disabilities have advanced over 40 years


Conor Walsh: Designer of the Soft Robotic Exosuit

The Harvard professor’s prototype can help stroke survivors walk



Most Developers Fail to Design Websites Accessible to People With Disabilities

The founder of accessibility firm Deque Systems shares tips to make sites easier to use


Three Ways Technology Can Help Seniors Live Independently

Preventing falls and managing medications are some areas of focus