6.S196: Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology

Syllabus and Timeline

6.S196 is a project-based course. In small teams, you will work closely with a person with a disability in the Cambridge area to design a device, piece of equipment, app, or other solution that helps them live more independently. Over the course of the term, each team meets with its "client," iterates through multiple prototypes, and learns about the challenges and realities of designing technologies for people with disabilities.

To be successful in developing assistive technology that is effective and gains acceptance, you will need to understand the person's realities and needs, grasp the situations and environments in which the device will be used, and appreciate the broader context of disability and assistive technology in society. To realize this goal, this course has the following components:

Weeks 1-5: Foundational Lectures and Understanding User Requirements

We will introduce the history and current state of assistive technology and the challenges that remain today. The specific concepts that we will explore in class include contextual inquiry, user analysis, and evaluation metrics.

  • Week 1: Introduction to Assistive Technology

        Wed 5 September: Lecture: Professor Teller, "Introduction & Overview"
        Wed 5 September: Lab: People-first language / Disability etiquette

  • Week 2: Project Matching & Contextual Inquiry

        Mon 10 September: Lecture: Professor Teller, "System Model"
        Mon 10 September: Lab: Wheeled mobility & campus accessibility

        Wed 12 September: Lecture: Professor Teller, "The Human User"
        Wed 12 September: Lab: TBD

  • Week 3: Team Formation & Project Matching

        Mon 17 September: Lecture: Professor Miller, "Ethics" (PDF) (powerpoint slides)
        Mon 17 September: Lab: Human Subject Protection and Human Subject Training (PDF) (MSWord lab exercise)

        Wed 19 September: Lecturer: Professor Miller, "User-Centered Design" (powerpoint slides)
        Wed 19 September: Lab: Contextual Inquiry

        Fri 21 September: No MIT classes today; see the Career Fair Schedule for other things to do today!

  • Week 4: Idea Generation

        Mon 24 September: Lecture: Brian Charlson, The Carroll Center
        Mon 24 September: Lab: Voiceover/Screenreaders

        Wed 26 September: Lecture: Mary Ziegler & Kathy Cahill, MIT ATIC, "Assistive Technology - Our Scope and Challenges" (powerpoint slides) (Rich Text Format (RTF) transcript)
          ATIC Handouts:
            Assistive Technologies at MIT
            ATIC's Alternative Pointing Devices & Keyboards
        Wed 26 September: Lab: TBD

  • Week 5: Measurement Instruments

        Mon 1 October: Lecture: Professor Teller, "Information Processing I"
        Mon 1 October: Lab: Alternative text input

        Wed 3 October: Lecture: Professor Teller, "Information Processing II"
        Wed 3 October: Lab:TBD

        Fri 4 October: ADD DATE

  • Week 6: Project Development

        Mon 8 October: No MIT classes today; MIT observes Columbus Day.

        Wed 10 October: Lecture: Melissa Simonian, Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital, "Cognitive-Linguistic Disabilities"
        Wed 10 October: Lab: Project component purchase

    Week 7: Mid-Semester: Panels, Etc.

  • Week 7: Proposal Writing

        Mon 15 October: Lecture: Professor Miller, "User Testing" (powerpoint slides)
        Mon 15 October: Lab: Project Check-in and Panel preparation with David Hayden

        Wed 17 October: Lecture: Professor Teller, "Functional Deficits that Accompany Aging"
        Wed 17 October: Lab: TBD

  • Week 8: Project Development & Panels

        Mon 22 October: Lecture: Chris LaRoche & Katherine Wahl, MIT IS&T, "Usability"
        Mon 22 October: Lab: *Rescheduled* WEEK 7 PANELS (Panelist(s): Judy Brewer (W3C), Don Fredette (TBH), Prof. Rupal Patel)

        Wed 24 October: No PPAT lecture today
        Wed 24 October: Lab: Project check-in with David Hayden & Prof. Miller

  • Week 9: User Testing & Iteration #1

        Mon 29 October: Lecture: Michele Friedner (Postponed due to Hurricane Sandy)
        Mon 29 October: MIT Closed due to Hurricane Sandy

        Wed 31 October: Lecture: Krzysztof Gajos, "Personalized Adaptive Accessibility" (HALLOWEEN!)
        Wed 31 October: Lab: Project Check-in

  • Week 10: Evaluation of First Prototype

        Mon 5 November: Lecture: Jack Geilfuss & Steve Saling, Leonard Florence Center
        Mon 5 November: Lab: Alternative Pointing/Touch Input Devices

        Wed 7 November: Lecture: Samantha Scolamiero, "Functional Deficits Accompanying Brain Injury" (powerpoint slides)
            "How I lost 20 pounds on the New Moo Diet"
        Wed 7 November: Lab: Project Check-in

  • Week 11: User Testing & Iteration #2

        Mon 12 November: No MIT classes today; MIT observes Veterans Day.

        Wed 14 November: Lecture: Barbara Johnson, MIT IS&T, "Hearing Impairment and Cochlear Implants"
        Wed 14 November: Lab: Project Check-in

  • Week 12: User Testing & Iteration #3

        Mon 19 November: Lecture: Don Fredette, The Boston Home, "Adaptive Technology at TBH"
        Mon 19 November: Lab: Project Check-in

        Wed 21 November: DROP DATE - No lecture & no lab today, Happy Thanksgiving!

        Fri 23 November: No MIT classes today; MIT is closed for the Thanksgiving Vacation.

  • Week 13: Final Testing and Analysis

        Mon 26 November: Lecture: Judy Brewer, W3C, "Web Accessibility, Universal Design and Assistive Technology"
        Mon 26 November: Lab: Augmentative and Alternative Communication

        Wed 28 November: Lecture: Professor Rupal Patel, "Assistive Communication"
        Wed 28 November: Lab: Project Check-in

  • Week 14: End-of-Semester Panels

        Mon 3 December: Lecture: Michele Friedner (rescheduled from 29 October)
        Mon 3 December: Lab: WEEK 14 PANELS
          Fall 2012 PPAT Final Presentations
             315pm: Convene, introductions

             330pm: Team Steve
               Julian Gonzalez, Shawn Wen
                 Augmented caregiver access and E911 capability for a client with ALS

             400pm: Team Janet
               Casey Chiou, Joy Ekuta, Jason Strauss
                 Accessible touch- and speech-based nurse call for a client with MS

        Wed 5 December: Lecture: TBD
        Wed 5 December: Lab: WEEK 14 PANELS
          Fall 2012 PPAT Final Presentations
             315pm: Convene, introductions

             330pm: Team Lindsay
               Marcus Lowe, Victoria Sun
                 Making an inaccessible touchscreen accessible for a blind client

             400pm: Team Haben
               Veronica Newlin, Priya Saha
                 Haptic call notification for a blind & hearing-impaired client

             430pm: Team Laurie
               Kaiying Liao, Rohan Mahajan, Kwadwo Nyarko
                 Accessible tablet control of an adjustable bed for a client with MS

  • Week 15: Final Reports

        Mon 10 December: Lecture: William Li, "Life After PPAT"
        Mon 10 December: Lab: Low-Vision Assistive Technologies

        Wed 12 December: LAST DAY OF CLASSES
        Wed 12 December: Lecture: Professors Teller & Miller, "Course Summary"
        Wed 12 December: No lab
        Wed 12 December: Individual Final Reports and Team Make Posts Due

    Please contact TA David Hayden (dshayden@csail.mit.edu) or Prof. Teller (teller@mit.edu) with any questions.