Assistive Technology Workshop Weekend

Mar 15 2016

From 3D printed prosthetics, adaptive cardboard chairs, and tactile metro maps, the Assistive Technology Workshop, March 12 and 13, brought the NYU Shanghai community, international professionals, and individuals with disabilities together to brainstorm low and high tech solutions for people with special needs.

One weekend highlight was hearing from Executive Director, Adaptive Design Association and MacArthur Fellow Alex Truesdell, who fabricates individualized equipment for children with disabilities--using cardboard. “If the situation is changed, the adaptation can actually change the whole definition of how someone thinks about themselves and how everyone else thinks about them,” she said.

“Because of these inventions, now a little girl with no trunk support -- who can’t hold herself up and who always ate alone and against the wall -- can comfortably sit in her personalized, adaptive chair and enjoy eating in the company of her friends,” said Director of the IMA Program, Marianne Petit.

As a collaboration of NYU and NYU Shanghai, Petit introduced speakers who through hands-on sessions, lectures and discussions, illustrated assistive technologies with an interdisciplinary approach. Participants absorbed case-studies and insights from occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists, engineers, designers and developers.

Saturday focused on the role of assistive tech with its users and professionals as well as how it can be acquired and implemented in China. New technologies like 3D printing and prosthetics, as well as ExoSkeleton (a wearable robot that assists with mobility and strength), and VR systems were also introduced. Sunday took on developing affordable adaptive technologies, advocating for low vision and blindness technology, and new visual impairment AI technology from Baidu Research.  

Both days concluded with interactive sessions where enthusiastic groups of participants designed solutions for three specific special needs cases.

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