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NYSID News Blog

April 12, 2016

CREATE Symposium Showcases Assistive Technology for Workers With Disabilities

Category: General — NYSID @ 8:36 pm

Union College engineering student Diana Temple and her professor, James Hedrick, are part of a team that created an invention designed to help individuals with disabilities at Schenectady Arc work more efficiently in a greenhouse.

Diana Temple, Union College engineering student, discusses her team's assistive technology during NYSID's CREATE Symposium

They couldn’t be prouder to see their project evolve from concept to reality while creating greater work opportunities for Schenectady Arc workers.

“When I found out that I could complete a senior project that would benefit a real end user, I was excited to take this opportunity,” Temple said. “After visiting the Arc facility, I really got a sense of the importance of this facility in the community. I better understood how the facility helps not only the individuals, but also their families. I wanted to create something that the individuals would be proud of and excited to be able to use.”

Union College and Schenectady Arc joined New York colleges and NYSID member agencies in showcasing their assistive technologies on April 12 during NYSID’s second CREATE Symposium at the Legislative Office Building in Albany. The event featured prototypes of technology inventions designed to increase productivity and improve the livelihoods of New Yorkers with disabilities.

City College of New York students display CuraWatch, an Android smartwatch app that assists individuals living on the autism spectrum

CREATE (Cultivating Resources for Employment with Assistive TEchnology) is an initiative sponsored by NYSID that brings undergraduate and graduate student engineers and professors from colleges and universities across New York State together with NYSID organizations that employ individuals with disabilities.

Participating colleges and NYSID member agencies for 2016 included: Union College/Schenectady Arc; City College of New York/Goodwill Industries of Greater New York & Northern New Jersey; Manhattan College/Lifespire; and Alfred State College/Arc of Livingston-Wyoming.

Students and professors demonstrated their CREATE inventions to New York State legislators and staff, including Senator Robert Ortt (R,C,I-62), chair of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, and Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara (D-111), Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Autism Retention.

NYS Senator Robert Ortt (R,C,I-62) addresses NYSID's CREATE Symposium attendees

Assemblymember Santabarbara graciously invited CREATE participants and NYSID staff to be formally recognized on the Assembly floor.

This year’s CREATE inventions also included:

Curawatch, an Android wear application that provides services for people on the autism spectrum and helps users stay focused and on-task.

A QR Code-Based Navigation that enables people on the autism spectrum to determine their location in a complex indoor environment.

Project BrightLife, an inventory management system that helps workers with developmental disabilities fulfill orders and replenish inventory accurately and efficiently, using a system of colored LED lights, run by customized software.

NYS Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara (D-111) poses with NYSID staff members and CREATE participants after formally recognizing them on the Assembly floor

News 10 ABC/Fox 23, CBS6 News and Time Warner Cable News all provided coverage of the CREATE Symposium.

The Union College team worked with Maple Ridge, a campus of Schenectady Arc, to develop the user-friendly products. Overall, students have found the work to be creative and extremely meaningful, as these inventions have the ability to improve livelihoods and increase productivity for individuals with disabilities.

“I really enjoy working with students on projects that help benefit people and help to solve human problems,” Union College Professor Hedrick said. “The CREATE project was designed to help people with developmental disabilities learn horticulture, and thus provides for a human need. I frequently tell students that individually we can’t do much, but together there isn’t much we can’t do.”

Valerie Andreoli, business development leader for Schenectady Arc, is very pleased with the outcome of the project. “The rotating board and acrylic tools developed by the college students boosted both quality and quantity for our clients on the product side. Employees that were once unsuccessful in completing the job are now provided equal access,” she said.


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