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Seven Hills Foundation: Assistive Technology Kit

Student Researchers:

Nathan Ghion – Mechanical Engineering, 2016

Kevin Lou – Biomedical Engineering, 2016

Dalton Oakley – Biomedical Engineering, 2016

John Valley – Electrical and Computer Engineering , 2016

Project Sponsor: The Seven Hills Foundation

The Seven Hills Foundation in Worcester is dedicated to ameliorating impaired individuals, using assistive technology. The Foundation has been providing services and support for people in need since 1951. Its mission is to help those with disabilities or crippling ailments pursue a healthier and more independent life-style. Seven Hills focuses on “empowering individuals with disabilities to live more fulfilling lives by becoming members of their respective communities through individualized supports and services” (Seven Hills Family Services, 2014).

The ASPiRE! Program

Seven Hills Family Services, an affiliate of Seven Hills, created the ASPiRE! program to promote the independence of its participants. For the disabled, greater independence can lead to higher self-esteem and require less supervision. Participant independence would also allow Seven Hills Family Services to better allocate the time of its professional caregivers and provide similar benefits to the supporting family members of the participants. Seven Hills Family Services is considering low-tech assistive technology (AT) as a way to help its participants become more independent.

Goals and Objectives:

The goal of our project was to develop and implement a low-tech assistive technology (AT) kit for the Seven Hills ASPiRE! program.

Objective 1: Assessing baseline need and solutions for the kit

A study was done to quantify the prevalence of each major type of disability, physical or cognitive, at the ASPiRE! program. Based on the study, we generated several AT solutions that will benefit the participants. Then we evaluated all candidate solutions. There was a score assigned to each potential solution. This score was based on the frequency of use, impact, and convenience. Solutions were also chosen based on the needs of the participants of ASPiRE!. Components of the kit  included the materials and tools to build the chosen solutions.

Objective 2: Establishing usability and cost criteria

Criteria was established to assess the usefulness and cost of the kit. As the kit catered to both the physically and cognitively disabled participants at ASPiRE!, the cost of including different combinations of AT solutions in the kit was studied with the purpose of including solutions that catered to participants with various developmental disabilities. Customization based on specific disabilities was used to ensure that most or all participants can benefit from the kit.

Objective 3: Implementation of AT kit

Two training sessions were offered at the ASPiRE! site for the implementation of the AT kit. The first session was staff only, followed by the second session consisted of both the staff and participants. We showed the prototype of the kit, materials included, and why we chose the materials. We introduced the AT book and showed how our kit integrated these solutions. We created short video clips that show how to construct several assistive technology solutions. The video clips were included in our kit and shown in our training sessions. An assembly guide was included in the kit. This was a detailed step-by-step guide on how to create the kit itself.

Objective 4: Distribution of kits

For the scope of this project, a prototype AT kit was developed and implemented at the ASPiRE! site in Worcester. After the project was completed, the kit was to be developed and produced beyond the prototype stage. It will also be distributed to various programs of the Seven Hills Foundation to help participants at these programs.

Final Report:

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