Access North is a part of The Ramp Project, which provides ramps for people with disabilities on a sliding fee scale. Many times this project makes the difference between an individual coming home or living in an institution. The ramps are modular, made of wood, require no footings, and can be temporary or more permanent. Ramps are installed by a project supervisor and community volunteers, this makes them cost effective (about a third of what it costs to have a typical contractor build one).
Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Starkloff Disability Institute
Colleen Starkloff is a career advocate for people with disabilities.
She is an expert on issues related to independent living; Universal Design, the history of disability issues, disability employment and public policy related to the disability community.
As a Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Starkloff Disability Institute, she works to promote and foster full employment for people with disabilities. She consults with employers on training issues related to employment of people with disabilities in mainstream, competitive jobs.
Ms. Starkloff is often invited to speak on a variety of subjects related to disability rights, Universal Design, employment of people with disabilities and the emancipation of all people with disability.
A new alternative to current senior living has emerged in cities across the United States, including the major metropolitain area New York City. Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities, or “NORCs,” is a concept that fosters aging in place for older populations. Some 22% of those living in the Upper West Side – folks who settled into condos or rent controlled apartments in the 70’s – have now transitioned into their golden years. This is higher than the citywide average of 17%. The communities exist on their own, however, there is an opportunity and a need for independent amenities to aid its residents.
Some residents at the TigerPlace Aging-in-Place residences in Columbia, Missouri are taking part in a scientific experiment being conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, who are using video game technology to monitor the residents’ health.
The living quarters of sixty-five residents have been outfitted with motion detection sensors over each doorway, high-tech sensors embedded in their mattress and a Microsoft Kinect box mounted on the ceiling to detect falls. The data collected by this equipment is analyzed to determine changes in the residents’ health and behavior patterns. For instance, if the motion detectors detect that a resident uses the bathroom an excessive number of times each night, then a nurse is called to evaluate the resident for a urinary tract problem. If restless sleep is observed, then the resident can be evaluated for anxiety or depression. If wandering off at night is observed, then the resident can be checked for early signs of alzheimer’s. The Kinect’s motion capture technology can also show researchers changes in a resident’s gait, which can help them predict and prevent trips and falls. The technology could one day be used to provide support to older adults who are aging in place.
The Monitor has a wonderful interview with Wendy Rogers, PhD, director of the Human Factors and Aging Laboratory at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, describing how she understands the process of designing and developing technology for older adults. Rogers talks about the labratory’s “Aware Home,” a house-like environment where they can test out new technologies, like robots and health monitoring systems. She goes on to explain how decreases in motor control, as well as perceptual and conceptual abilities need to be taken into account when designing for older adults. While younger users can sometimes compensate for a product’s or website’s poor design, this is harder for older users. Rogers explains that designing something to be easily used by older adults usually results in a product that is easier for everyone to use. Rogers also speaks about how some companies are starting to recognize the older adults as a market that they need to pay attention to and design for.