Envisioning Access: Our Future
Innovative Technology for Those Living with Physical Disabilities
As an organization dedicated to working with those living with physical disabilities, we look at our history with great pride. Now,
Envisioning Access is in an exciting transition phase, undertaking initiatives that will allow us to continue to serve the disability community by providing resources through the utilization of robotics, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI).
Envisioning Access is looking to take the 40+ years of experience, intellectual property, and insights it has gained in service to the disability community and offer it in collaboration with robotics, AR, VR, and AI research organizations, firms, and service providers.
The goal of our new Innovative Technology Initiative is to offer new technologies, now coming on the market at a rapid pace, that help empower individuals with physical disabilities to live more independent and engaged lives. As when we trained service monkeys from the 1980s through the early 2000s, our goal today is to provide tools that allow individuals with physical disabilities to have opportunities to pursue meaningful careers, advanced educational degrees, and fulfilling personal lives.
Currently, Envisioning Access is looking at implementing:
- Robotics Pilot Projects leading to a permanent Robotics Program
- Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Pilot Projects leading to a permanent Virtual & Augmented Reality Program
How Does It All Work?
Envisioning Access is working directly with people who are living with a physical disability who can advise scientists, researchers and developers at companies and universities as they develop technology that is appropriate to assist those with disabilities in their daily living needs. Often a piece of technology comes on the market that is not useful for someone living with a disability. Through our pilot projects, Envisioning Access hopes to involve the disability population directly so the technology developed is useful, affordable, and available for those who need it.
Robotics and Virtual Reality Pilot Projects
We are in the discovery phase of learning how both robotics and augmented/virtual reality will best benefit those living with physical disability challenges. With input from our newly established Robotics and Virtual Reality Committees, made up of experts in these two fields as well as those living with physical disabilities, we are first designing pilot projects to test the specific technologies. Our goal is to turn what we discover in the pilot projects into complete programs. This activity will ascertain how robotics and VR technologies provide independence to someone with limited or no physical mobility.
Pilot Projects in Progress
Envisioning Access is currently engaging in pilot projects to determine how the innovative technology under development will:
- Improve quality of life and assist in daily living needs for those living with physical disabilities; and
- Provide peace of mind for the primary caregiver.
Envisioning Access is delighted that we are currently brainstorming a robotics project and two virtual reality projects, including:
- An assistive robotic project with Northeastern University’s Institute of Experiential Robotics to ascertain if a robotic arm or other human assistive robot will help a person living with multiple sclerosis in his daily living needs as well as give his primary caregiver peace of mind.
- The Billy Project, which is looking at how to make virtual reality more accessible for those living with physical mobility impairments. This is a collaboration between a special effects company, Envisioning Access, a person living with a spinal cord injury, and a gaming company.
- Working with Toronto-based Sense Tech Solutions to produce software that will create information and communication technology (ICT) platforms based on feedback from those living with disabilities throughout a two-year process. Envisioning Access will be instrumental in providing key knowledge through the recipient’s real-world experiences of what the ICT platform needs.
As technology advances, Envisioning Access realizes that robotics will increasingly play a larger role in providing nonhuman personal assistants to people with disabilities. At the outset, Envisioning Access knows that its knowledge and observations can be of great benefit to research organizations and technology firms in these areas to better understand how disabled individuals interact with nonhuman personal assistants in a productive manner.
Moreover, as technology progresses, Envisioning Access believes that increasingly there will be a convergence between robotics and machine learning/AI. The robots will need first to be “trained” to provide the essential services. However, as both robotics and machine learning/AI are combined, those nonhuman personal assistants will be able to adjust to the specific requirements of their client. Envisioning Access has 40 years of intellectual property and experience in the training of nonhuman personal assistants to provide service to the disability community. Moreover, Envisioning Access is probably one of the only, if not the only, organization with insights into how the nonhuman assistant “learned” from its interactions with a disabled individual and adapted how it provided its service to that individual while still providing the parameters of services as it was trained.
As robotics and AI technologies advance and converge, Envisioning Access believes that its knowledge and observations can be of great benefit to research organizations and technology firms to help them better understand that dynamic of adaptation by the nonhuman personal assistant to the individual needs of the disabled person while maintaining the safety and efficacy of service provision.
and Artificial Intelligence
and Artificial Intelligence
Envisioning Access has always looked with great admiration and appreciation to organizations that are striving to find cures for injury- and disease-related causes of immobility. We look to continue to complement those heroic efforts by addressing quality-of-life issues for disabled individuals. Envisioning Access sees the profusion of firms within the AR and VR areas as offering great potential for the disabled community including but not limited to:
- neurological rehabilitation;
- experiential opportunities that can provide some degree of temporary “independence” of movement and engagement with the community at large; and
- training and employment potential that need not be tied to a specific location.
However, based on its 40 years of experience, Envisioning Access also knows that on the day-to-day level, dealing with immobility disabilities can weigh down an individual on the physical, emotional, and psychological levels. We have direct experience and understanding of this challenge. In our decades of relationships with clients, we have worked with and learned from them as they struggled through various stages of their disability:
- newly disabled due to disease or injury;
- striving to obtain as much quality of life as possible;
- coming to terms with plateauing and reversals in their progress through either a relapse or physical/technological limitations; and
- end-of-life issues.
Envisioning Access looks to partner with AR and VR groups to apply its understanding of the unique life cycle needs and issues of immobility for disabled individuals as these firms develop and offer their technology and services in an effort to provide increased opportunities for various degrees of independence and engagement with the wider community.
These are only a few of the areas Envisioning Access envisions participating in as we look at the next generation of service provision for the disability community. That is why Envisioning Access is so excited to collaborate with other groups to test these ideas; determine the viabilities; and, imagine and develop opportunities that we have not even begun to imagine as we begin this journey. We welcome you to join Envisioning Access’ journey to the future.
Envisioning Access (under its former name, Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers) has been providing quality of life services to individuals with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and other disabilities for over 40 years.
We are now embarking on an exciting transition that will allow us to continue to serve individuals within the disability community in an innovative manner. As part of this transition, Envisioning Access is in the process of developing collaborative strategic relationships with research institutes, technology firms, complementary service providers, and funders involved in finding cures and providing service to the disability community.
At Envisioning Access, our future with such collaborative partners will enable us to apply our 40 years of intellectual property, experience, insights and networks and infuse our knowledge into the next generation of service provision to the disability community. Please let us know if you and your organization are interested in exploring such a potential collaboration.
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org