TechSAge Receives Grant to Support Aging-in-Place for People with Long-Term Disabilities

TechSAge Receives Grant to Support Aging-in-Place for People with Long-Term Disabilities

Georgia Tech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to collaborate on research projects and technology development
Alyson Powell Key
October 18, 2018
The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation (NIDILRR) has awarded the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a 5-year, $4.6 million grant to conduct research and development projects that support successful aging-in-place for people with long-term disabilities. The grant represents the second phase of RERC TechSAge, with continued collaboration from co-directors Jon Sanford and Tracy Mitzner at Georgia Tech, and Wendy Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (formerly a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology). Researchers and staff in the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), the Interactive Media Technology Center (IMTC), and AMAC Accessibility Solutions, as well as health system and community organizations will partner with TechSAge.

“We are particularly excited for this new collaboration with the University of Illinois. Our projects are fully integrated, involving researchers at Georgia Tech and Illinois with complementary areas of expertise,” said Jon Sanford, director, Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access.

“AMAC is thrilled to continue our partnership TechSAge with an increased leadership role," said Carolyn Phillips, Tools for Life director, AMAC. "Teaming up with the Division of Rehabilitation and Education Services (DRES) and the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois, we’ve developed a dynamic plan to make training and dissemination activities even more robust.” She continued, “As we further integrate our ‘nothing about us without us’ philosophy, we are committed to knowledge transfer in multiple forms into multiple communities. You will continue to see TechSAge’s findings in tier one journals, but also in mainstream publications and media that are accessible to the broader community. We will be launching a series of online and in-person training opportunities designed to increase awareness of the aging with disability population and build skills in the areas of assistive technology, universal design, accessibility and rehabilitation engineering.”

The latest phase of TechSAge integrates new, innovative projects with expansions of the most promising activities from the first cycle. Researchers continue to dive deeper into the exploration of technology needs and applications for people aging with disability, with work in the areas of tele-technology exercise, fall prevention, and smart and connected home technologies.

“In next phase of TechSAge, we’re focusing more on new and developing technologies, particularly voice-activated digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, to understand their utility and practical applications for people who are aging with disability and want to remain at home (aging in place)," said Sanford. "We’re focusing on these devices across research, development and training projects. We’re exploring what’s already out there, identifying user needs among the aging with disability population, and ultimately utilizing that knowledge to develop new skills & apps. We’re really excited about partnerships with Amazon and Anthem Innovation Studios that will help us expand and enhance our annual student competition focused on these technologies.”

“TechSAge 2 has taken innovation to another level in this grant cycle through the introduction of a dynamic collaboration with Amazon," said Phillips. "We will host and facilitate the development and launch of aging and disability-related skills to assist individuals in the community.”

A 2016 U.S. Census report estimates that nearly 17 million older adults have one or more disabilities, and that number is expected to grow as more Baby Boomers reach the age of 65. People with disabilities are also living longer lives than ever before due to advances in healthcare, rehabilitation, and disability rights. TechSAge focuses on understanding the needs of and developing supportive technologies for, older adults with long-term sensory or mobility impairments. In addition to research and development projects, TechSAge will conduct training and dissemination efforts that are responsive to the RERC priorities.

“Responding to the priority of the grant, TechSAge 2 design and technology solutions will not only address the activity support needs of people with disabilities as they age, but also the monitoring and management of common secondary conditions among this population, such as falls and depression,” said Sanford.

NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services. Their mission is to generate new knowledge and to promote its effective use to improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community and to expand society’s capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for its citizens with disabilities.

For more information, contact TechSAge Project Coordinator Elena Remillard, visit the TechSAge website, and follow them on Twitter.
Additional Media: 
Georgia Tech TechSAge team members
Georgia Tech TechSAge team members with an Atlanta skyline view on the rooftop of 512 Means Street, home to AMAC and CATEA. Photo taken after TechSAge 2 kick-off meeting. Investigators and staff pictured here: Front row: Liz Persaud;
Second row (Left to right): Su Jin (Susan) Lee, Carolyn Phillips, Maribeth Gandy Coleman, Peter Presti; Back row (Left to right): Brian Jones, Ben Jacobs, Elena Remillard, Tracy Mitzner, Sarah Melgen, Jon Sanford
TechSAge team members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
TechSAge team members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign gather for a group picture in the College of Applied Health Sciences after the TechSAge 2 kick-off meeting. Investigators and staff pictured here: Front row (Left to right): Wendy Bartlo, Laura Rice, Sa Shen, Lyndsie Koon; Back row (Left to right): R.S. Sreenivas, Jacob Sosnoff, Wendy Rogers, Jeff Woods, Jon Gunderson, Brian Pastor
TechSAge logo
TechSAge logo

Sign up for news from IPaT