The U.S. Department of Education announced today that the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) has awarded 16 grants of $75,000 each to 11 small businesses to conduct research and develop technology that makes life and learning easier for individuals with disabilities.
For instance, one grantee will develop a low-cost computer graphics screen-reader for the vision-impaired; another will develop and evaluate an accident prevention system for manual wheelchairs; and another will design and develop a foot-operated mouse for computers.
“These projects are designed to help people with disabilities maximize their job productivity and economic self-sufficiency,” said Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). “This is the first step of research and development in several areas that will enhance independent living and employment for individuals with disabilities.”
NIDRR's Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) program has two phases. Phase I determines the scientific or technical merit of the idea and awards are made for up to six months for a maximum of $75,000; and phase II projects expand on the previous results and are for up to two years and a maximum of $500,000.
SBIR grants are designed to stimulate innovation in the private sector, empower small businesses in meeting federal research and development needs, and increase the commercial application of the Department’s research. The grants are funded through the NIDRR, which is part of the OSERS. All SBIR projects funded by the institute must address the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families.
The following is a list of the grants the Department announced:
AbleLink Technologies, Inc. – A Remote Schedule Management and Monitoring System to Support Personal Scheduling by Individuals with Intellectual and Cognitive Disabilities; and A Cloud-based Activity Support System to Facilitate Independence for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities; and Development and Evaluation of an Independently Usable Interface to Facebook for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities
CreateAbility Concepts, Inc. – A Talking SmartPhone and Tablet application that Helps People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired to Fully Utilize Devices with Visual Flat-Panel Displays; and A Novel Electronic Aids for Daily Living System for People Who Cannot Use Their Hands
Vcom3D, Inc. – Mobile Communication App for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Individuals; and Mobile Signing Math Dictionaries with Mouth Morphemes for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Institute for Disabilities Research and Training, Inc. – Computer and Online Software That Provides ASL Translation and Publishing Capabilities
Advanced Medical Electronics Corp. – Low-cost Computer Graphics Screen Reader for the Vision Impaired
Good Nutrition Ideas, LLC – Nutrition Program for Community-based Group Homes for Persons with Intellectual or Development Disabilities
Koronis Biomedical Technologies Corp. – Neurocognitive Training to Improve Executive Function
Charmtech Labs LLC – Goal-Oriented Browsing: The Next Generation Web Accessibility Technology for People with Visual Impairments; and Ubiquitous Web Access for People with Vision Impairments
Assistech Systems LLC – HealthChecker: Development of an Accessible Web-Based Application for Self-Assessment of Personal Health and Wellness by Individuals with Cognitive Disabilities
Minnesota HealthSolutions – Automatic Accident Prevention System for Independent Wheelchair Users
Dental R.A.T., LLC – Foot-Operated Mouse for the Disability Market.