Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities: Employment

This session will address specific issues and challenges related to employment for people with disabilities and the use of assistive technologies to promote diversity, inclusivity and workplace success.

Research has demonstrated that Assistive Technology (AT) are powerful tools to improve independence, employment and community participation among people with disabilities. AT, including both high-end and low-end devices, equipment and systems, apps and other products. While AT could be useful in improving the life of people with disabilities, the WHO identified that only 10% of the population in need of AT products had access to them. Although AT provision varies across countries, the intent to support people with disabilities should be a global priority with a focus to remove barriers and provide facilitators in independent living and employment.

Globally, the employment rates of people with disabilities is significantly lower than their peers without disabilities. In addition to the socio-economic implications, social exclusion impacts negatively on self-esteem, mental health and wellbeing. People with disabilities encounter many barriers as they try to obtain and sustain meaningful and gainful employment. Promoting employment and independence through the use of AT in collaboration among stakeholders will have significant impacts on the quality of life of people with disabilities. These will help address some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as Goal 1 (No Poverty); Goal 2 (Good Health and Well Being); Goal 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and Goal 17 (Partnerships).

In this session, we will focus on SDG1, SDG2, SDG10, and SDG17. Specifically, we will draw together interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral stakeholders from research, industry, other stakeholder groups to exchange current technological, research and policy developments especially in the context of employment. Stakeholders with a vast range of expertise and experience will identify the challenges of translating research and products into practice as well as discussing strategies and sharing best practices to support design and development of AT tools for use in employment context.

AGENDA Assistive Technologies

Time speaker
Mr Gerardo Herrera Gutiérrez, University of Valencia
Title: The State of the Art of Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities in Employment Settings
13.20-13.40 (BST)
14.20-14.40 (CEST)
8.20-8.40 (EST)
Speaker 1: Dr Hung Jen Kuo, Michigan State University / Dr Annemarie Connor, Florida Gulf Coast University
Title: Assistive Technology and Abandonment: Beyond Functionality
13.40-14:00 (BST)
14.40-15.00 (CEST)
8.40-9.00 (EST)
Speaker 2: Dr Anjali Forber-Pratt, Vanderbilt University
Title: Disability in the Workplace: Stories, Lessons & Research
14.00-14.20 (BST)
15.00-15.20 (CEST)
9.00-9.20 (EST)
Speaker 3: Ms Jo Sinha, Peckham Inc.
Title: Assistive Technology at Work
14.20-14.40 (BST)
15.20-15.40 (CEST)
9.20-9.40 (EST)
Speaker 4: Laura Humm, SIMmersion/Dr Matthew Smith, University of Michigan/Chris Steacy, SIMmersion
Title: Combining Technology, Research, and Stakeholder-Input in the Design, Development, and Evaluation of Simulated Conversation Tools
14.40-15.00 (BST)
15.40-16.00 (CEST)
9.40-10.00 (EST)
Dr Connie Sung, Michigan State University
Title: Moving Forward: The Future of Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities
Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities: Employment

The event is finished.

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Sep 28 2020


2:00 PM - 4:00 PM


  • Anjali J. Forber-Pratt
    Anjali J. Forber-Pratt
    Assistant Professor in the Department of Human and Organizational Development

    Anjali J. Forber-Pratt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Human and Organizational Development with secondary appointments in the Department of Special Education and Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and a member of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Her primary area of research relates to disability identity development. As a principal investigator, she has secured over $700,000 in disability research funding. She presents regularly at state, national, and international conferences and is author on 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous chapters. As a wheelchair-user for over 30 years, a two-time Paralympian and medalist, Dr. Forber-Pratt is nationally and internationally recognized as a disability leader and mentor. She was a White House Champion of Change in 2013 and the American Psychological Association awarded her the 2020 Citizen Psychologist Award for Advancing Disability as a Human Rights and Social Justice Issue Award.

  • Annemarie Connor
    Annemarie Connor
    Director of the Autism & Neurodiversity Alliance at Florida Gulf Coast University

    Annemarie Connor, PhD, OTR/L, is an assistant professor of occupational therapy and director of the Autism & Neurodiversity Alliance at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida. Dr. Connor earned a doctorate in Rehabilitation Counselor Education from Michigan State University, and a master’s of science in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University. She has been a licensed, certified occupational therapist for more than 20 years with pediatric experience in schools, residential programs, and outpatient settings. She has additional clinical experience in home healthcare, skilled nursing, and adult outpatient settings. Her research and scholarly interests focus on interdisciplinary intervention research in the areas of vocational rehabilitation, psychological wellness, and social participation with an emphasis on postsecondary transition and adolescent mental health. She has published more than 10 refereed journal articles and book chapters and is the principal investigator of multiple community-based participatory research projects.

  • Christopher D. Steacy
    Christopher D. Steacy
    Chief Business Officer, SIMmersion L.L.C

    Christopher D. Steacy is Chief Business Officer for SIMmersion L.L.C. His expertise is valuing people within processes to cultivate meaningful relationships between technology developers, research partners, and stakeholders. As co-investigator on several NIH funded projects Dr. Steacy has experience with the design, development, adaptation, evaluation, and implementation of evidence-based simulation training tools. While the early part of his career was spent in clinical practice, his current research interests lie in community-based participatory research methods for the development of simulation training technology.

  • Connie Sung
    Connie Sung
    Associate Professor, Michigan State University Director, Supporting Transition and Employment Preparation (STEP) Lab

    Dr. Connie Sung is an associate professor of rehabilitation counseling at Michigan State University. She founded the STEP (Supporting Transition and Employment Preparation) Lab and is also a co-director of a school-to-work transition program (namely Spartan Project SEARCH) and MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows Postdoctoral Program. Her research focuses on investigating community-based interventions in improving psychosocial and vocational outcomes and quality of life of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. She has published over 60 refereed journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Sung has also developed and validated two manualized group-based interventions to improve soft skills and employment readiness of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, namely ASSET (Assistive Soft Skills and Employment Training) and EPASS (Employment Preparation And Skills Support) programs. Dr. Sung’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, Institute of Education Sciences, Department of Defense, and the State of Michigan.

  • Gerardo Herrera Guitiérrez
    Gerardo Herrera Guitiérrez
    Director Assistive Technology lab for Autism, Robotics Institute, University of Valencia

    Researcher at IRTIC – University of Valencia, Spain. Author of a number of scientific papers on technology and autism. Editor of technical Books and manuals from Autismo Avila Publishing House, La estrella azul imprint, and Dr Buk Publishing House. Research lead in a number of EU projects on autism and technology, including IVRAP, STAY-IN, AMUSE or SMART-ASD. Author of a number of IT tools for people with ASD.

  • Hung Jen Kuo
    Hung Jen Kuo
    Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

    Dr. Hung Jen Kuo is an Assistant Professor in Rehabilitation Counselor Education program at Michigan State University. His research interests center on “supporting the education and employment needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) via the use of technology.” Specifically, he is currently involved in several projects addressing the transition needs of young adults with ASD and intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition, with his background and experience in computer science, he is also involved in projects using innovative technology (e.g., virtual reality and mixed reality) to promote employment outcomes of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Dr. Kuo’s clinical experience working as a rehabilitation counselor and assistive technology (AT) specialist involves identifying, designing, and implementing AT solutions for workers with a variety of different disabilities. He is currently a senior member of the Lifting Individuals and Families through Empowerment (LIFE) research lab and the web administrator for the RehabPower website.

  • Jo Sinha
    Jo Sinha
    President and CEO of Peckham, Inc.

    Jo Sinha is the President and CEO of Peckham, Inc., a vocational rehabilitation organization that provides paid job training opportunities for people with disabilities. With more than 3,000 employees, 11 locations, five social enterprises and more than 25 vocational rehabilitation services programs, Sinha leads the award-winning organization’s mission, culture and operations. Under Sinha’s leadership, Peckham has achieved significant growth and achievement. Her demonstrated expertise includes successful implementation and creation of strategic partnerships to enable advanced job opportunities and upward mobility for individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. During her tenure, Sinha has championed innovative strategies that have grown Peckham’s footprint in other regions, created a new standard for universally designed facilities for those with barriers, and helped to expand and enrich human service programs and higher-wage jobs for its clients.

  • Laura Humm
    Laura Humm
    Chief Operating Officer, SIMmersion LLC

    Laura Humm is the Chief Operating Officer for SIMmersion LLC. She has a broad background in psychology with specific training and expertise in the design, development, and evaluation of PeopleSim® simulation technology used to develop communication skills. During her 18-year tenure with SIMmersion, Ms. Humm has led the design and development of 50 training programs, served as Program Manager or Co-Investigator on two dozen federally funded grants and contracts, and co-authored 18 publications. She is passionate about the benefits of effective communication and has established best practices for engaging subject matter experts and panelists with lived experience throughout the technology development process.

  • Matthew J. Smith
    Matthew J. Smith
    Associate Professor, University of Michigan Director, Level Up: Employment Skills Simulation Lab

    Matthew J. Smith, PhD, MPE, LCSW is an Associate Professor and Director of the Level Up: Employment Skills Simulation Lab [] at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on developing and evaluating technology-based interventions for special education, community mental health agencies, and prisons to enhance employment outcomes among marginalized youth and adults from underserved communities. Dr. Smith received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed post-doctoral fellowships in psychiatric epidemiology and biostatistics at Washington University in St. Louis and in translational neuroscience at Northwestern University. He completed a fellowship on leading randomized controlled trials to evaluate behavioral interventions through the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Dr. Smith’s research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Justice, Kessler Foundation, and the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research.