February is Low Vision Awareness Month and the National Eye Institute encourages everyone to learn more about low vision and vision rehabilitation services. We thought this would be a good moment to shine a light on the NIDILRR-funded projects focusing on blindness and low vision and to introduce the newest members of this group.
Four new projects made their debut in this year’s NIDILRR Program Directory:
- Kinetic Braille Keyboard Adapter is a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project creating a non-electronic keyboard that can mount on a tablet or smartphone to improve input of Braille writing.
- Transition Adventure is another SBIR to develop and test an interactive fiction game for visually impaired students to improve pre-employment skills.
- Cross-Sensory Digital Map Development Project is a three-year project to develop a cross-sensory digital web-based map component that can be inserted into any webpage and be accessed visually and in audio.
- Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Employment of People Who are Blind or Have Low Vision is a familiar center but with all new activities dedicated to improving employment opportunities and outcomes for people who are blind or have low vision. The 2020-2025 center’s projects include exploring the use of assistive technology in the workplace over time, evaluating virtual interview training and teaching job search skills via videoconference, and examining barriers and facilitators of labor force participation, among others.
In addition to these new grants, five other projects are working in this area:
- CARE: Community Access Through Remote Eyesight examines the potential of certain mobile technologies to improve daily activities, community participation, independence, and self-efficacy of older adults with visual impairments.
- T3 Platform: The Next Generation Tactile Tablet, a system for creating, distributing, and consuming touch-responsive, audio-embedded tactile graphic maps, games, puzzles, and interactive lessons.
- Virtual Office Space evaluates a fully integrated, high-resolution virtual desktop for individuals with low vision that can be accessed online from home or the workspace.
- Kids Low Vision and Reading Study seeks to determine which factors are most predictive of reading difficulties in children with low vision so that problems can be identified early, and treatment strategies can be developed.
- Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Develop and Evaluate Rehabilitation Technology and Methods for Individuals with Low Vision, Blindness, and Multiple Disabilities is a five-year center with projects tackling multiple topics: emerging and underserved subpopulations of people with vision loss such as children and returning veterans; improving indoor and outdoor navigation options; access to graphical information; and access to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers.
These are just a handful of the 300+ NIDILRR-funded projects conducting research and development to support the full participation of people with disabilities in learning, working, and living in their communities. Explore the current and completed projects to learn more!