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An older woman using a prototype cross-disability accessible voting tablet.

In October 2003, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education, awarded a five-year, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) grant to the Trace Research & Development Center, University of Wisconsin - Madison.

The overall focus of the Universal Interface and Information Technology Access RERC is on accessibility and usability of current and emerging information technologies. This includes access to information content in its various forms, as well as access to interfaces used within content and by electronic technologies in general. The desired outcome of this work is a seamless integration of the various technologies used by individuals with disabilities in the home, the community, and the workplace. The RERC includes a broad research and development program, as well as training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities.

Research and Development

The research and development program is designed as an interwoven set of projects, where the research results are used in the development projects, and what is learned from prototyping and tool-building in the development activities is fed back into the continuing research. The overall goal of this program is to make possible the continuous improvement of the design of mainstream information technology products so that they can be used by individuals with disabilities and elders, and in addition to improve assistive technology and the interoperability of AT and standard information technology. Project outcomes have the potential to rewrite some basic precepts and approaches for accessibility and usability of information and interface technologies by people with disabilities, with impact on other research in this field.

Three individuals are meeting together at a table.  One participant is wearing hearing aids; his screen shows a signing avatar conveying the text of the meeting in sign language, and he takes notes on a pad of paper.  Another participant is blind; he has an earpiece plugged into his laptop so that he can use screen reading software.  The third participant is using a tablet computer as she speaks and gestures.Research projects include:

In addition, the RERC includes the following development activities:

Training and Technical Assistance

In addition to research and development, the RERC provides training for researchers and product designers, and technical assistance to government, industry, and consumer groups.

The Training Program includes:

Trace Research and Development National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) Logo

Funding for this work has been provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education, under grant H133E030012.