National Council on Disability Document Archive

Hearing on federal tech transfer for PWD

Posted by: Jamal Mazrui
Date Mailed: Tuesday, July 22nd 1997 01:12 PM

On July 15, the House Committee on Science held a hearing on how
to increase the availability of assistive technologies through
transfer of federal research and development efforts.  Below is
the written testimony submitted at the hearing.

Jamal Mazrui
National Council on Disability


                             PREPARED STATEMENT OF
                             CONSTANCE A. MORELIA
                          SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY
                            TUESDAY, JULY 15, 1997
  Meeting the Needs of People with Disabilities through Federal
  Technology Transfer
  Hearing of the Technology Subcommittee
  July 15, 1997
  Welcome to this afternoon's hearing on the federal technology
  transfer applications of assistive technologies.
  Assistive technologies are being used to increase, maintain, and
  improve the functional capabilities of individuals with
  For the 49 million people in the Unites States who have
  disabilities, as well as for Americans who are able bodied, our
  nation's Federal research and development investment especially
  from our Federal laboratories around the country - has yielded a
  tremendous number of quality of life enhancements.
  These include some of the most state-of-the art advances in
  assistive technologies, some of which will be demonstrated at
  today's hearing.
  Each day research and development programs at our nation's over
  700 United States Federal laboratories produce new knowledge,
  processes, and products.
  Often, technologies and techniques generated in these Federal
  laboratories have commercial applications if further developed by
  the industrial community.
  As a result, Federal laboratories are working closely with United
  States business, industry, and state and local governments to help
  them apply these new capabilities to their own particular needs.
  Through this technology transfer process our Federal laboratories
  are sharing the benefits of our national investment in scientific
  progress with all segments of our society.
  By spinning-off and commercializing Federally developed
  technology, the results of our Federal research and development
  enterprise are being used today to enhance our nation's ability to
  compete in the global marketplace.
  It seems clear that the economic advances of the 21st century will
  be rooted in the research and development performed in our
  nation's laboratories and is becoming more dependent upon the
  continuous transfer of technology into commercial goods and
  Today, we will focus on one such success story of our Federal
  technology transfer efforts - assistive technologies.
  The majority of the approximately 1,000 companies in the assistive
  technologies field are small to medium size companies which could
  benefit from the same access, partnership, and collaboration of
  activities with the Federal laboratory system that has become far
  more commonplace in fields such as automotive, manufacturing,
  aeronautics, and energy and environmental research.
  I look forward to hearing more about assistive technologies from
  our distinguished panel today and I welcome our witnesses to the

                             PREPARED TESTIMONY OF
                          KATHERINE D. SEELMAN, PH.D.
                            REHABILITATION RESEARCH
                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
                          FEDERAL TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
                          SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY
                            TUESDAY, JULY 15, 1997
  Chairwoman MorelIa and members of the Subcommittee on Technology,
  my name is Katherine D. Seelman. I bring you greetings from the
  Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, and the Assistant Secretary
  of the Office.of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services,
  Judy Heumann. I am the director of the National Institute on
  Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), and chair of the
  Interagency Committee on Disability Research (lCDR). I would like
  to express my appreciation for your leadership in technology
  transfer, and for inviting me to testify before you today at this
  hearing on Meeting the Needs of People with Disabilities Through
  Federal Technology Transfer. I am testifying on the prospects for
  potential collaboration between NIDRR and the Federal Laboratories
  in the area of assistive technology.
  The importance of assistive technology to disabled people is
  summarized in the following quotation:
  "For Americans without disabilities, technology makes things
  easier. For Americans with disabilities, technology makes things
  (From Study on the Financing of Assistive Technology Devices and
  Services for Individuals with Disabilities, National Council on
  Disability, March 1993)
  Activities of life that many of us take for granted, such as
  moving from place to place, may be impossible for someone with
  paralysis. However, the addition of assistive technology, in this
  case a wheelchair, makes the impossible become possible. The
  widely recognized symbol of.disability, that can be seen
  everywhere, clearly reflects this concept: a person using a
  wheelchair (assistive technology) now has the possibility of
  moving from place to place independently.
  NIDRR is located in the Office of Special Education and
  Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in the Department of Education.
  The purpose of NIDRR is to support rehabilitation research and the
  use of such research to improve the lives of individuals with
  physical and mental disabilities, especially those with severe
  disabilities. We are the lead federal agency in research,
  development, and deployment of assistive technology. We support a
  comprehensive program of rehabilitation research at a level of
  about $70,000,000 per year. NIDRR's research activities most
  relevant to the hearing today are the sixteen Rehabilitation
  Engineering Research Centers (RERCs). We also support related work
  through Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contracts and
  through discrete research grant projects. The Program Directory
  for the research supported by NIDRR is available on the World Wide
  Web at
  NIDRR administers a $36,000,000 effort in assistive technology
  deployment authorized by The Technology-Related Assistance for
  Individuals with Disabilities Act (PL 100-407). There are Tech Act
  Programs in all 50 states.
  Another one of my responsibilities as Director of NIDRR is
  chairing the lCDR, which is charged with promoting coordination
  and cooperation among Federal departments and agencies conducting
  rehabilitation research. The ICDR's Technology Subcommittee is
  actively working to promote and coordinate these activities.
  NIDRR's community of interest includes individuals with
  disabilities and their families, researchers, rehabilitation
  service providers, and manufacturers and distributors of assistive
  technology across,the nation.
  One of NIDRR' s main areas of focus is research in the application
  of engineering and technology to assure equality of opportunity,
  full participation, independent living, and economic self-
  sufficiency for individuals with disabilities. Some examples of
  NIDRR's past accomplishments through its Rehabilitation
  Engineering Research Centers include working with Microsoft to
  include accessibility features in Windows '95, and contributing
  substantially to launching the now thriving augmentative
  communication device industry. Mr. Hersberger, of the Prentke
  Romich Company, will also testify today and tell you more about
  augmentative communication devices, which allow individuals who
  cannot speak to communicate vocally.
  What assistive technology is in use today? A definition of
  assistive technology is attached, but I would like to give a few
  specific examples. In addition to the wheelchair and augmentative
  communication devices mentioned earlier, assistive technology
  includes relatively simple devices, such as canes and walking
  sticks, as well as more technologically sophisticated devices such
  as digitally programmable hearing aids, voice input/output
  computers, artificial legs and hands made of space-age materials,
  and perhaps someday, a visual prosthesis. I hope you saw some of
  the exhibits prior to the hearing, or will visit them afterward.
  There is a broad spectrum of assistive technology. At one end of
  the continuum are devices used by relatively small numbers of
  individuals with disabilities. At the opposite end of the spectrum
  are devices used by large numbers of people, both disabled and
  Those pieces of assistive technology that are specialized for use
  by individuals with a particular disability are sometimes called
  "orphan devices". Orphan devices are disability specific devices
  that are used only by a small number of individuals with
  disabilities. These devices are designed with the concept of
  restoring a physical function, or retrofitting a commercially
  available piece of equipment so that someone with a disability can
  use it. An example of an orphan device is a device used by an
  individual who is both deaf and blind, in which a doorbell
  activates one or more fans to alert the individual when a visitor
  is at the door.
  Currently, an estimated 15.6 million people in the US either use
  some type of specialized assistive technology or have reported
  they would benefit if they did use assistive technology (LaPlante
  et al, Technology and Disability, vol 6, pp. 17-28, 1997).
  At the opposite end of the spectrum are devices that have been
  developed through the process of "Universal Design". In this
  process, devices for the mass market have accessibility features
  built in at the front end, so that virtually anyone can use them.
  A wellknown example of this would be the inclusion of the closed-
  caption decoder in all television sets, making receipt of
  captioned broadcasting available to millions for only pennies per
  set. Captioned broadcasts are useful not only for deaf and hard-
  of-hearing persons, but for persons learning to read English and
  all persons in noisy areas such as airports and restaurants.
  Another example is the information kiosk that provides the same
  information in both visual and auditory formats. Universal
  technology is also represented by ramps that can be used by both
  individuals in wheelchairs and persons pushing baby strollers, and
  by lever style handles that make opening doors and turning faucets
  easier for all individuals. The universal approach typifies the
  concept of "fixing" the environment. Mr. Jacobs will be discussing
  Universal Design in his testimony today.
  It is more difficult to obtain solid estimates of the market sizes
  and user populations of universally designed technology.
  Looking to the future, population trends as well as trends in
  technological developments will require attention. Massive and
  pervasive changes in mainstream technology will create not only
  new opportunities, but also new barriers. For example, blind
  people who work with computers may find themselves no longer able
  to perform their jobs if they cannot use new computer systems that
  are based heavily on graphical icons.
  With respect to trends in the globalization of technology, and the
  concomitant rapid economic changes, many experts believe that the
  U.S. and international markets for assistive technology will:
  >> experience significant growth in the years ahead,
  >> be very receptive to the introduction of new devices,
  >> need to respond to consumer demand for improvements to the
  quality of existing assistive technology devices, and
  >> experience increasing competition.
  At present, there are approximately 2,500 companies, the vast
  majority of them small, that produce assistive technology in the
  U.S. They are listed in ABLEDATA, a national assistive technology
  database developed with NIDRR support, available on the World Wide
  Web at:
  These companies constitute the core of an infrastructure to
  further the transfer of technological discoveries to assistive
  Demographic studies reveal the trend to the aging of the U.S.
  population, and that is a trend experienced by other
  industrialized nations. An older population has greater assistive
  technology needs than a younger population. Older Americans use
  assistive technology to prolong the time they can live
  independently in the community and to reduce the costs of long-
  term care.
  Where will our country's future assistive technology come from?
  How will the United States respond to these changes and trends?
  This is what brings us to the main point of the hearings today --
  the ability of the Federal Laboratories to play a significant role
  in assistive technology development for the future. Together,
  NIDRR and the Federal Laboratories are looking for ways to bridge
  the gap between the high technologies within the Federal
  Laboratories, the opportunities for assistive technology
  development, and the needs of people with disabilities.
  Based on past interactions with Federal Laboratories, researchers
  in NIDRR's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers have
  identified the need for better access to, and exchange of,
  information and expertise. While great strides have been made in
  cataloging the technological resources of the Federal
  Laboratories, the problem of describing vast amounts of extremely
  complex technology is, in itself, a daunting challenge.
  We have experienced advances in our exchange of information
  between NIDRR constituents and the Federal Laboratories. For
  example, NIDRR has funded the Consumer Assistive Technology
  Transfer Network (CATN). The CATN is charged with increasing
  consumer involvement in assistive technology transfer by linking
  the fifty-six State programs funded under the Technology-Related
  Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act with the sixteen
  Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs), and the seven
  hundred Federal Laboratories nationwide. Interacting with CATN
  permits engineers, developers, and researchers to review new
  product inventions and problems submitted by consumers, and
  permits consumers to review the potential value of new
  technologies produced by engineers, developers, and researchers.
  More information about CATN can be obtained at
  As a result of various CATN activities, the Federal Laboratory
  Consortium has funded assistive technology focus groups at NIDRR's
  Technology Transfer RERC. The purpose of these groups is to look
  at the possible relevance to users of various advances in
  assistive technology.
  A model for future successful cooperation and partnership between
  NIDRR projects and the Federal Laboratories includes:
  >> continuing to work on information exchange,
  >> providing additional resources, in the form of engineering
  staff time, to seek out potential technology for transfer,
  >> conducting pilot projects or reciprocal exchanges of staff
  engineers and scientists between NIDRR's RERCs and the Federal
  Laboratories, and
  >> involving individuals with disabilities and individuals from
  minority backgrounds in technology transfer.
  Congresswoman MorelIa, the Subcommittee on Technology of the House
  Committee on Science has an impressive record of fostering
  technology transfer. I hope that with your leadership, new ways
  can be found to expand our ability to work collaboratively to help
  the Federal Laboratories transfer their technology into the very
  important area of assistive technology, to the benefit of people
  with disabilities. Let me close by returning to a quote I used in
  the introduction:
  "For Americans without disabilities, technology makes things
  easier. For Americans with disabilities, technology makes things
  For an individual with a disability, assistive technology can make
  possible what would otherwise have been impossible. Turning
  impossibilities into possibilities is perhaps one of the finest
  outcomes of technology transfer.
  Definition of assistive technology
  The term assistive technology device means any item, piece of
  equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, off-
  the-shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase,
  maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with
  disabilities (Excerpt PL 100-407).
  Common Usage
  Technologies used in education, rehabilitation, and independent
  living to help, change, or train are now commonly grouped into the
  generic term "assistive technology." People of all ages with
  physical, cognitive and communication disorders, or a combination
  of disabilities may benefit from the application of assistive
  Interaction with subject matter and instructional materials
  Computers with adaptive switches and keyboards that substitute for
  normal keyboard use or conventional handwriting; audio tape
  players, braille displays or print magnifiers for students who are
  blind or visually impaired.
  Persons with speech and/or hearing disabilities are able to
  transmit and/or receive communication. Communication boards,
  speech synthesizers, modified typewriters, head pointers, text to
  voice software, voice to text software, and telecommunication
  devices for the deaf, text telephones, CCTV's.
  Mobility and active movement
  The use of electric or conventional wheelchairs for full body
  movement; modifications of vans for travel; crutches, canes and
  walkers for support and stability; or canes used by pedestrians
  who are blind or visually impaired.
  Control of equipment
  Switches for people who have limited control over voluntary
  movements can be activated by touch, sound, voice, light pointers,
  and movement of the body for computers, television, and home
  appliances. Self-help skills Devices that assist in daily living
  and independence skills: modified eating utensils, adapted books,
  pencil holders, page turners, dressing aids, and adapted personal
  hygiene aids.
  Body support, alignment, and positioning
  Adapted seating, standing tables, seat belts, braces, cushions and
  wedges to maintain posture, and devices for trunk alignment that
  assist people in maintaining body alignment and control so they
  can perform a range of daily tasks.
  Modification of the work environment
  Modifications of desks and work tables to accommodate wheelchairs,
  computer modifications for alternate input systems, "talking"
  instrument displays for the blind or visually impaired, and
  automatic door openers.
  Leisure time, recreation activities, and appreciation of the arts
  Devices include guide rails in bowling alleys for people who are
  blind, special prostheses that assist persons with amputations to
  participate in sports, computer decelerators that slow down arcade
  type games, and audio description for movies, sporting, and
  cultural events.

                             PREPARED STATEMENT OF
                                 C. DAN BRAND
                         FEDERAL LABORATORY CONSORTIUM
                          SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY
                         FEDERAL TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER"
                            TUESDAY, JULY 15, 1997
  It is a privilege to appear before you today to discuss how the
  Federal Laboratories can help meet the needs of people with
  disabilities. I wish to acknowledge and thank both the Chair and
  members of the Subcommittee for your invitation to speak on this
  very important subject. Before I discuss how we feel the FLC can
  aide in the transfer of Federally funded technologies to the
  Assistive Technologies (AT) community, I would like to provide a
  definition of AT. Assistive Technologies are defined as any
  device, item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether
  acquired commercially off the shelf, modified or customized, that
  is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities
  of individuals with disabilities. I would now like to give you a
  brief overview of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology
  Transfer (FLC).
  FLC Overview
  The FLC consists of over 700 member research/development (R&D)
  laboratories and centers from seventeen federal agencies and
  departments. The FLC is the nationwide network of Federal
  Laboratories that provides the forum to develop strategies and
  opportunities for moving Government technologies to the
  marketplace. The FLC brings its member laboratories together with
  potential users of government-developed technologies in the
  private sector as well as state and local governments. We also
  assist in the interagency transfer of technologies. We develop and
  test transfer methods, address barriers to the process, provide
  training, highlight grass-root transfer efforts and emphasize
  national initiatives where technology transfer has a role. The
  Federal Laboratories represent a vast reservoir of technology and
  expertise, a reservoir we believe can be tapped to aide the
  disabled and able bodied communities.
  The FLC has been in existence in some form since 1974. The passage
  of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 provided
  increased stimuli for the growth and development of the FLC. The
  Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 provided a Congressional
  Charter and funding mechanism creating the FLC as we know it
  today. The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of
  1995, introduced by the Chair and co-sponsored by Representative
  George Brown, provided a number of significant enhancements for
  industry and the Federal Laboratories. This legislation also
  reinforced the importance and appropriate role of technology
  transfer programs and activities within the Federal Laboratory
  The FLC has recently developed a new strategic plan for the 21st
  Century to meet our member's future needs. In implementing this
  Plan we have identified six strategic focus areas designed to help
  the FLC achieve our vision. A copy of our Strategic Plan (figure
  1) and the six strategic focus areas (figure 2) is included for
  your review. Two of the six areas I believe, are directly related
  to how the FLC can assist in transferring technology to the AT
  Community. These two areas are, "Optimizing Diverse Resources" and
  "Creating Innovative Partnerships."
  The FLC is committed to enhancing partnership opportunities
  between the Federal Laboratories and the private sector, which
  includes the AT Community. We believe that these increased
  partnership opportunities will lead to a more efficient leveraging
  of the resources that are available, both in and out of the
  Federal R&D System. While individual laboratories have worked with
  the AT Community over the years, our organizational commitment
  began with our participation in the 1996 Atlanta International
  Paralympics and Abilities Expo. Our Paralympics activities
  included for example, sponsoring roundtable discussions involving
  people with disabilities and the manufacturing community. Since
  August of last year, we have actively promoted and been engaged in
  a number of activities supporting the Department of Education's
  National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
  (NIDRR). These activities included conducting unprecedented
  technical sessions on AT at our last two National Technology
  Transfer Meetings, partnering with NIDRR on the development of the
  Consumer's Assistive Technology Network (CATN), and developing a
  multi-agency presentation for the Technology 2007 Show to be held
  September 22 -24, 1997 in Boston. Attached for your review is a
  summary of some of these activities (figure 3).
  Madam Chair, last year in a speech to our FLC membership you
  provided a vision of what our role might be: I quote:
  "...Federal labs must refocus their missions on long-term, often
  highrisk R&D, frequently through facilities which are beyond the
  financial reach of industry and academia, and through the
  application of multidisciplinary teams of scientists and
  engineers... The appropriate lab role, with industry, is one in
  which a cooperative R&D agreement is designed and implemented so
  that the labs are accomplishing one of their four primary missions
  (national security, energy, environmental and basic sciences),
  while seeking industrial participation only where it is needed to
  accomplish the primary mission."
  Within this framework, I believe the FLC member labortories can
  further assist in moving government technologies into the AT
  community, thus ultimately benefiting the citizens of the United
  Based upon a recent report "Chartbook on Disability In the United
  States, 1996", it becomes quite apparent that as we age, the level
  of severe disabilities increases from a low of 3.3 % of the
  population age 15-24 to 41.5% of the population age 75-84. I would
  suspect that this trend will continue as the nation continues to
  A T Issues Background
  As the nation continues to define the role and determine
  priorities of federally funded Science and Technology (S&T)
  activities, we believe it is imperative that Assistive
  Technologies be part of that debate. There are numerous planned
  and serendipitous scientific and engineering discoveries resulting
  from Federal R&D investment that have yielded quality of life
  enhancements for Americans who are able bodied as well as
  There are currently 49 million people in the United States who
  have disabilities. Five percent of those people who could benefit
  from the use of an assistive technology use them. Although this is
  currently a $26.5 billion industry and growing, due to the aging
  process, it is an area that has largely not benefited from
  technology transfer activities within the Federal Laboratory
  System. Current projections indicate that this market of products
  and services will continue to grow at a rate of 10-12% annually
  for the foreseeable future.
  Presently there are approximately 2,500 companies in the AT field,
  which is dominated by three major competitors capturing slightly
  less than 10% of the $26.5 billion market. The majority of
  companies are small to medium size firms which could benefit from
  the same access, partnership and collaboration of activities with
  the Federal Laboratory System that has become far more commonplace
  in fields such as automotive manufacturing, aeronautics, and
  energy and environmental research.
  Many of the basic technology needs of the AT community are in
  areas such as devices for people with physical sensory and
  expressive communication and cognitive disabilities. These
  technology focus areas represent many of the same research areas
  consistent with the R&D mission of our laboratories related to
  technologies for space exploration, national security and defense.
  Past Roadblocks to Success A solid history of synergism does not
  exist between the FLC member laboratories and the NIDRR
  laboratories. NIDRR's sixteen, small, primarily University based,
  labs have often felt ignored and marginalized by their larger
  Federal counterpads. Efforts on the part of the NIDRR labs to work
  with other members of the Federal system have seen little success.
  A significant cause of this has been a general lack of
  understanding on the part of the major labs as to the
  opportunities that exist for collaboration between themselves,
  NIDRR and the AT manufacturing sector and the value added benefits
  from such collaborations. We believe that the FLC can play a major
  role in increasing this awareness.
  Recent Changes in Legislation
  The recent changes to the Technology Transfer legislation, which
  were introduced by the Chair, serve to further promote, facilitate
  and incentivize the public and private sector to develop strategic
  partnerships to accomplish the mission of the agencies. It is
  through such partnerships that industry is able to identify
  broader applications of Federal Laboratory technologies for the
  commercial market. We believe this approach is equally viable for
  the AT business community. Therefore, it is the goal of the FLC to
  promote and facilitate an increase in partnerships involving the
  AT Community through the use of the mechanisms which currently
  exist. i.e., personnel exchanges, Cooperative Research and
  Development Agreements (CRADAs), use of facilities and laboratory
  expertise. We need to ensure that small businesses have efficient,
  reliable access to the Federal R&D System where it helps to
  fulfill the mission of the laboratory, while providing the nation
  the opportunity for an increased return on its R&D investment.
  Some Recent Success Stories
  There have been numerous successful technology transfer efforts in
  the AT area. Examples include:
  Department of Defense
  -  Use of Global Positioning Satellite System technology by
  Arkenstone in Sunnyvale, California to assist individuals who are
  visually impaired.
  Department of Transportation
  -  Talking Signs - A system which uses infrared transmitters and
  receivers to provide orientation to low vision or learning
  disabled individuals.
  Veterans Administration (VA)
  -  VA/Seattle below the knee prosthesis that has been designed and
  fabricated using advanced computer aided design and manufacturing
  technology through a collaborative effort with Aulie Devices, Inc.
  of Redmond, Oregon.
  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  -  A software program developed for research to evaluate the
  physiological and behavioral effects of flight systems on pilots
  has been adapted to become part of a system that will help
  educators communicate with severely disabled students. NASA's
  Langley Research Center has teamed with the private sector and the
  Montgomery County (Ohio) Board of Mental Retardation and
  Developmental Disabilities to find a way to objectively measure
  what information their disabled students are gaining from their
  environment so an education curriculum could be designed for them.
  FLC/NIDRR Synergy
  The FLC and NIDRR each have a unique mandate to serve the public.
  NIDRR is specifically charged with developing Assistive
  Technologies, and it is clearly within our mandate to assist
  NIDRR. This synergy of mission needs to be developed and enhanced.
  One of the six focus areas I spoke about earlier has heightened
  relevance here. It is in the best interest of our nation to ensure
  that we leverage to fullest extent possible the Federal
  investment, where appropriate, to improve the quality of life for
  persons with disabilities. This is important for a number of
  First, is the simple fact that demographics alone indicate that
  the number of people requiring some form of AT is only going to
  increase. As the percentage of the U.S. population over 65
  increases in the future, there will most certainly be an increase
  in the call for AT devices. It is paramount that R&D be done early
  to reduce the lag time between supply and demand.
  Second, this increase in need will come at a time of decreasing
  resources, both in dollars and people. In this environment of
  scarce resources, it is critical that each dollar be stretched as
  far as possible. There needs to be a push to evaluate and assess a
  technology's "universal design" potential for an AT application.
  The Federal R&D System needs to commit, at the very least, to
  explore areas of cooperation with the AT Community.
  This leads to the other area I mentioned earlier, to "Create
  Innovative Partnerships." The federal labs need to look outside
  the box during the assessment of technologies. Old ideas and
  practices need to be reviewed to ensure that access to
  technologies is not being limited by past ideologies and ideas. AT
  research and development needs the kind of attention that Biotech
  R&D enjoys today. The Federal Research System needs to understand
  and value the profound impact to the quality of life of the
  American public that Assistive Technologies can have to the
  disabled and able bodied community.
  FLC Actions
  There are four things that the FLC can begin immediately to start
  the process of assisting NIDRR in its mission.
  1. The FLC will continue to promote the awareness and benefits of
  Assistive Technology universal design throughout the Federal
  Laboratory System.
  2. The FLC, in conjunction with NIDRR, can begin to identify the
  technical needs of the NIDRR laboratories and the AT manufacturing
  community and then identify FLC member laboratory contacts who can
  help. It has been said that Technology Transfer is a "contact
  sport," putting individuals together to talk and share ideas
  should begin to enhance the relationship between the FLC
  membership, NIDRR and the business community.
  3. Exploit and adapt the use of mechanisms the Congress and
  Administration have provided through key legislation such as the
  National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, Small
  Business Innovative Research and Manufacturing Extension Programs
  to the Assistive Technology community.
  4. With your support madam Chair and that of the Subcommittee
  members, we can convey to the laboratory leadership the importance
  of considering the incorporation of Assistive Technology design
  and development issues as it relates to the mission of its
  respective laboratories.
  It is our hope that these near-term actions will lead to
  meaningful, long-term relationships and economic results that will
  ultimately benefit not only those people with disabilities, but
  society as a whole. It is important to remember that as we age, or
  in a split second, due to an unforeseen catastrophic accident,
  anyone sitting in this room could require some form of Assistive
  Technology and if you needed it, wouldn't you want it as soon as
  Final Words
  The FLC has a clear mandate to work with the Assistive Technology
  community and we welcome both the opportunities and challenges
  that are ahead. I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak
  here today and commend you madam Chair and members of the
  Subcommittee for your interest and leadership on this increasingly
  important subject.(Note:  Attachments not transmittable)

                             PREPARED STATEMENT OF
                               DR. BRUCE WEBBON
                           NASA-AMES RESEARCH CENTER
                          SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY
                            TUESDAY, JULY 15, 1997
  Madam Chair and Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to have
  the opportunity to discuss NASA technology and its application to
  assist people with disabilities.
  A significant and growing percentage of US citizens are afflicted
  with some form of physical disability. These range from relatively
  slight disabilities, which still may seriously interfere with
  their quality of life and work productivity, up to the near total
  disability caused by conditions such as severe spinal cord injury.
  In many cases technical solutions may exist which could benefit
  these citizens but that technology is often not available to them.
  In spite of the large overall number of citizens with some form of
  disability, the needs of particular individuals are often very
  dissimilar and as a result, the market for specialized assistive
  devices is often very small. As a consequence of this fragmented
  market, large private companies that may have sufficient
  scientific and engineering resources to develop the needed
  devices, are often reluctant to do so since the return on
  investment would be small or even totally non-existent. Small
  companies that might serve these niche markets often don't have
  the resources necessary to develop such new products. The end
  result is that while the necessary technology may exist in many
  cases, the private sector is often not able to apply it to serve
  the needs of many disabled citizens. The Federal Laboratories,
  including agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space
  Administration, may be able to help to bridge this technology gap.
  The following are some of the specific issues that must be
  addressed in order for this to happen:
  - Many worthwhile applications of available technology to the
  problems of the disabled still require significant engineering and
  scientific effort to develop and demonstrate a prototype suitable
  for transfer to the private sector.
  - The number of patients (potential customers) is often limited so
  that the return on private investment is often unacceptably low.
  - Federal labs may have the necessary technical expertise but such
  work is often not within the scope of their primary mission.
  - Resources, both staff time and dollars, are required and these
  are becoming increasingly scarce in the Federal Government.
  - Prototype devices can not just be "thrown over the wall".
  Resources must be provided for follow-on support and collaboration
  with industry to ensure successful technology transfer.
  - Serious medical and patient liability issues must be addressed
  during the development of both prototypes and actual commercial
  The Federal Government and its laboratories are uniquely qualified
  to address these issues and make major contributions in the area
  of medical assistive devices if they are given specific direction
  to do so as well as the resources to meet the challenge. Their
  most important resource is the technical expertise of the lab
  staffs and the facilities and specialized equipment that have
  often been built up over many years to accomplish the lab's
  primary mission. These resources are not tied to a company's
  "bottom line" so that a portion of their efforts can be re-
  directed if desired. Since they are not in the business of selling
  commercial products they have no commercial vested interest in any
  particular design solutions. Therefore, they can potentially be
  completely objective in selecting the best solution to meet the
  patient's needs. Most Federal labs also have the capability to
  design, fabricate, and test prototypes in-house at low cost and
  many labs already have the required legal review mechanisms in
  place to deal with the medical and patient liability issues.
  Overall NASA Efforts
  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has a long
  history of applying the aerospace technology that has been
  developed to accomplish its primary mission to help to solve
  problems on Earth. Many medical devices that are currently on the
  market had their origins in NASA technology. The primary NASA
  headquarters organizations that have directed these field center
  efforts are the Life Sciences Division of the Office of Life &
  Microgravity Sciences & Applications and the Commercial Technology
  Division of the Office of Aeronautics & Space Transportation
  Technology. The Commercial Technology Division has been given
  primary responsibility for ensuring that NASA technology is
  expeditiously transferred to the private sector. Many examples of
  such technology transfer are reported in publications such as
  Spin-off Magazine and NASA Tech Briefs.
  The Director of the Commercial Technology Division has already
  assigned staff to participate in the Interagency Committee on
  Disability Research, Subcommittee on Technology. This committee
  will produce a "Compendium of Federal Rehabilitation Technology
  Research." The Commercial Technology Division is also in the
  process of formulating a program plan that will focus resources on
  the problems of the disabled with the intent that NASA will become
  a model for the effective transfer and commercialization of
  technology to benefit people with disabilities. This program will
  utilize both Federal and private assets as appropriate in order to
  accomplish its goals. All NASA centers are involved in this new
  program just as all centers have made contributions to medical
  technology in the past. Some recent examples of NASA contributions
  to medical device technology include:
  - Compliant cable mechanisms for wheel chair suspension
  - Functional electrical stimulation (in collaboration with the
  Department of Veterans Affairs) for motor function restoration in
  persons with paralysis
  - Exercise aid for walking rehabilitation (in collaboration with
  the Department of Veterans Affairs)
  - Cooling therapy devices for use by persons with multiple
  - Filter technology for ambient eye tracker interference
  - Collaboration with UCLA Brain Research Institute for spinal cord
  injury rehabilitation and repair
  - Video game neurotherapy for attention deficit disorder
  - Orthotic locking knee brace and prosthetic elbow joint
  Specific Examples of Medical Assistive Device Development
  I would like to give several specific examples based on my own
  experience as to how the process of technology transfer for
  medical assistive devices has worked at NASA's Ames Research
  Center. These will illustrate how the process has worked in the
  past and will point out how it might be improved in the future.
  For many years NASA Ames was responsible for the development of
  advanced technology for space suits and portable life support
  systems for human space exploration missions. As a result of this
  primary mission, a highly skilled technical staff had been
  assembled along with the unique facilities and equipment they
  required. This technical area required staff expertise in a wide
  range of disciplines including various engineering skills as well
  as physiology and bio-mechanics. Since their role was advanced
  R&D, the staff had also developed a number of collaborations with
  both academia and industry. These staff skills were particularly
  applicable to the development of medical devices and over many
  years this group responded to requests from private companies,
  physicians, and individuals to assist in finding solutions to
  medical device problems. These efforts were enabled by a
  supportive and tolerant center management and in particular by the
  active support and participation of the Ames Chief Medical Officer
  who was responsible for ensuring that all human use and patient
  liability issues were properly handled.
  As a result this group was able to develop prototypes of the
  following devices, many of which are currently being manufactured
  by commercial companies, in addition to accomplishing its primary
  job of providing advanced technology for NASA missions:
  - suit to control bleeding in child hemophiliacs
  - radiation cancer therapy helmet
  - portable cooling system for workers in hot environments *
  - device to assist with "patterning" therapy in brain damaged
  - device to assist senior citizens in rising from a chair
  - head cooling systems for chemotherapy *
  - cooling systems for pilots and race car drivers *
  - "cool bra" for breast cancer screening
  - cooling systems for children with erythromelalgia
  - cooling systems for para and quadriplegics and MS patients *
  - negative pressure therapy chamber for treatment of pneumocystis
  - circumferential pneumatic counterpressure system for control of
  hemorrhage and shock *
  - cooling systems for military applications *
  - USAF advanced pressure suits
  - spinal cord injury patient immobilization system *
  - thermal control systems for surgery patients *
  - hard suit design *
  Those indicated by an * have resulted in successful commercial
  These development efforts fall into two distinct classes, those
  that resulted from a planned, programmatic effort and those which
  occurred by serendipity due to the existence and reputation of the
  technical group. I will provide examples of both.
  Liquid cooling garment systems were first conceived by the British
  Royal Aircraft Establishment during the 1950's to help aircraft
  pilots maintain their body temperature while wearing bulky
  protective suits in a hot aircraft environment. The concept was
  adopted and further developed by NASA during the Apollo program
  when it was found that astronauts wearing space suits suffered
  from similar heat stress. Both NASA and Russian astronauts still
  use refined versions of these cooling suits today.
  Ames Research Center staff began research in the late 1960's to
  better understand the alterations in the human physiology caused
  by the use of such garments and then to apply that knowledge to
  the development of improved garments. They soon realized that
  there were many Earth             applications of this technology
  that could be used in both hot and cold environments as well as
  for medical applications. The first focused effort was instigated
  by the U. S Bureau of Mines which asked us to develop a portable
  cooling system that could be used by mine rescue workers who
  were required to work very hard in very hot environments following
  disasters such as a fire in a mine. This effort resulted in the
  first prototype of the portable cooling systems that are currently
  produced by a number of companies.
  In 1978 a physician at UCLA, who knew that the symptoms of
  multiple sclerosis patients were greatly exacerbated in a hot
  environment, approached us to request that we try to use an
  astronaut type cooling system on some of his patients to determine
  if artificial cooling would provide any symptomatic relief. We
  took an experimental cooling system to a physical therapy clinic
  at UCLA and determined that it did indeed appear to provide some
  relief to the patients. A private company then adopted the system
  design and began to produce commercial systems for sale to MS
  These systems are still available today but they are not widely
  used in the MS community primarily because the scientific
  foundation establishing their effects has not been established and
  the currently available devices are expensive and simultaneously
  relatively expensive. In 1994 the NASA Administrator signed a
  Memorandum of Understanding with the Multiple Sclerosis
  Association of America and committed us to collaborate with the MS
  community in order to improve the technology and expand its use.
  We recognized immediately that we did not understand the needs of
  the MS community. Therefore, we began the program by organizing an
  invited workshop that included members of the MS research and
  patient care community as well as representatives of the companies
  that were producing cooling systems for use by MS patients. The
  purpose of this workshop was to define the specific requirements
  of the program to which we had been committed by the
  Administrator. We believe that this is a critical first step in
  any such program. The needs and requirements must be identified
  and defined by the actual end users of the technology to be
  This program has been extremely successful. We determined during
  the workshop that the most critical problems that we could assist
  the MS community in solving were to collaborate with them in
  performing carefully documented scientific experiments to define
  and quantify the effects of cooling on MS patients. This would
  establish the scientific basis of cooling therapy. In addition the
  small companies involved would benefit greatly if NASA undertook
  the development of several key hardware components that could be
  used to improve their devices. We have largely accomplished the
  first goal and the result is a number of scientific papers that
  validate the efficacy of cooling therapy for MS patients. As a
  result of these publications the technique is being widely adopted
  including the establishment of cooling therapy clinics in Veterans
  Affairs' hospitals and elsewhere. We collaborated with a
  university to develop the hardware components. This was
  accomplished by teams of undergraduate students working under a
  cooperative agreement with NASA so that the cost was very low. The
  student teams produced several innovative designs that will result
  in patents in addition to the valuable real world experience they
  obtained. These component designs will be made available to the
  manufacturers in the near future.
  This program, which has been supported by both the Life Sciences
  Division of the Office of Life & Microgravity Sciences &
  Applications and the Commercial Technology Division of the Office
  of Aeronautics & Space Transportation Technology over the last 3
  years, was not completed during the planned 3 years. Therefore, we
  have recently brought in a large corporate partner, the Lockheed
  Martin Corporation to help to provide the resources necessary to
  complete the program during FY98. In order to accomplish this a
  Memorandum of Understanding was negotiated and signed in June of
  this year between NASA Ames Research Center, Lockheed Martin
  Corporation, and the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.
  Each of the participants has pledged to contribute both financial
  and other resources necessary to complete the program. We are
  extremely proud of this program and we believe it can serve as a
  model of the methodology to be used for similar programs in the
  The development of such applications of liquid cooling technology,
  including this MS application, was selected by the United States
  Space Foundation in 1993 to be inducted into the Space Technology
  Hall of Fame.
  The second detailed example, which was also accomplished by the
  Ames Research Center staff, will illustrate how an informal effort
  can produce highly significant results if it is nurtured by lab
  management. This example is the development of what has become
  known as Medical Anti-Shock Trousers (MAST).
  Special suits, which help to protect the pilots of high
  performance aircraft from passing out during violent maneuvers,
  have been available for many years. These "anti-g" suits work by
  applying external pressure to the legs and abdomen to help to
  maintain blood pressure in the trunk and more importantly in the
  brain. In the early 1950's such a suit was used to attempt to
  maintain blood pressure during cranial surgery but the technique
  was not widely accepted. The US military also investigated the use
  of such suits during surgery. The Ames staff were actively
  involved in the development and testing of these suits and were
  aware of such applications.
  In 1969 a surgeon from the Stanford University Hospital placed an
  emergency call to an Ames space suit physiologist asking for help.
  Stanford had a female patient who was dying due to uncontrollable
  internal bleeding following surgery. Several surgical attempts had
  already been made to stop the bleeding but they were not
  successful. The surgeon reasoned that someone at Ames might be
  able to help and fortunately he was able to reach the right
  person. A small team of staff members were able to modify a
  pilot's g-suit and assemble a pneumatic controller within a few
  hours. This system was taken to the hospital and used on the
  patient. The bleeding stopped within a few hours and the patient
  recovered. A paper documenting this technique, "Anti-G Suit as a
  Therapeutic Device" was published in the Journal of Aerospace
  Medicine, Vol.41, No.8, August 1970.
  Over the next several years the Ames staff responded to several
  similar calls still using borrowed and adapted hardware. In 1975
  several Ames engineers collaborated with the Ames medical officer
  to design and fabricate a suit and controller especially for this
  purpose. This system was then used a number of additional times
  and the results were documented in a survey paper reviewing the
  use of the technique which was published in the Journal of the
  American Medical Association; Feb 16,1979-Vol 241, No.7. The
  editorial in that same issue advocated that trauma physicians
  consider the use of this life saving technique. As a result of
  this advocacy, a number of companies began to manufacture anti-
  shock trouser systems.
  These systems are now in common use in ambulances and emergency
  rooms around the world. The development of these anti-shock
  trousers was selected by the United States Space Foundation in
  1996 to be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame. As
  part of the Space Foundation's due diligence research they
  determined that these life saving systems have been used more than
  2 million times over the last 20 years.
  This example illustrates what can be accomplished without a formal
  program by a knowledgeable and dedicated staff provided their
  management supports and nurtures such efforts.
  A final example will illustrate how government staff expertise and
  resources might be utilized on a volunteer basis to meet the needs
  of individual citizens with disabilities.
  Ames Research Center is currently working with a non-profit
  organization called the Tetra Society to define and implement the
  necessary procedures to enable Ames staff to work directly with
  disabled individuals. The Tetra Society acts as a clearing house
  to connect disabled individuals directly with engineers and
  technicians who can produce specialized devices that will improve
  their quality of life. For example, the specific disability of
  paraplegics varies greatly. Many have individual needs for devices
  allowing them to reach a telephone for example or to carry a back
  pack on the back of their wheel chair and then be able to move it
  within reach. These devices can make significant improvements to
  their quality of life and self-sufficiency but they must often be
  custom made for each individual. Tetra attempts to match such
  individuals with the technically skilled people who can fabricate
  devices to meet their specialized needs.
  NASA is a gold mine of such people but they can not be accessed by
  the disabled community unless a number of legal and liability
  hurdles are crossed. These include human use issues, Worker's
  Compensation, and product liability. With the enthusiastic support
  of center management, the Ames Commercial Technology Office Staff
  is currently in the process of establishing legal and
  administrative procedures that will enable technical staff members
  to volunteer to use both their expertise as well as specialized
  fabrication and test equipment available at the center to
  fabricate such devices. We hope that this will become a model for
  other NASA centers as well as private companies. The Lockheed
  Martin Corporation has already indicated that they would like to
  set up a similar volunteer mechanism following our lead.
  These specific examples illustrate what may be accomplished even
  without a formally organized, Agency-wide program. We know that
  every NASA center has many similar and often unpublicized examples
  of providing assistance to the disabled community. We believe that
  far more can be accomplished given a more focused and organized
  Agency-wide approach.
  Agencies such as NASA have already made significant contributions
  to the disabled community. Both the Commercial Technology Division
  of the Office of Aeronautics & Space Transportation Technology and
  the Life Sciences Division of the Office of Life & Microgravity
  Sciences & Applications have supported and will continue to
  support such applications. Because of limited resources available
  to NASA, only a limited number of such applications may be pursued
  at any one time. As a technology becomes commercially available
  and the research to describe its use and scientific merit is
  published or transferred to the NIH or other user agency, the
  activity is phased out to release resources for another
  So-called technology transfer in actuality means the transfer of
  know-how together with making the technology commercially
  available. Therefore, the most important NASA asset is the
  technical strength of its staff. This must be preserved above all
  else to enable such contributions in the future.

                             PREPARED TESTIMONY OF
                               STEVEN I. JACOBS
                         SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CONSULTANT
                                NCR CORPORATION
                          SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY
                          FEDERAL TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
                            TUESDAY, JULY 15, 1997
  Thank you Chairwoman Morella, and members of the Subcommittee on
  Technology, for providing me the opportunity to discuss the
  business benefits of "Meeting the Needs of People with
  Disabilities through Federal Technology Transfer."
  My name is Steve Jacobs. I am a Senior Technology Consultant with
  the NCR Corporation. NCR is based in Dayton, Ohio, as is Wright
  Patterson Air Force Base. Over the past four years, NCR
  technologists have met, on several occasions, with Wright Lab
  scientists and Wright State University engineering students to
  share our knowledge and visions for the future. I mention Wright
  State for an important reason. Based in Dayton, Ohio, Wright State
  University has one of the largest number of students with
  disabilities, as a percentage of total enrollment, of any
  university in the United States.
  Developing products that are accessible, usable and useful by
  people with disabilities brings more benefits to mainstream
  business than may be obvious to the casual observer. The business
  world refers to products such as these as universally designed
  products. A universally designed product is defined, by the
  business world, as a product that is accessible, usable and useful
  by people with a wide range of abilities, in a wide range of
  There is not much difference between technologies that have been
  developed to enable a foot soldier to access computer-based
  information at night and technologies that enable people who are
  blind to access and use computers. Worldwide there are 154 million
  consumers who are blind and low-visioned. Thanks to text-to-speech
  technologies, originally developed as an assistive technology,
  people who are blind can now read with their ears as can our foot
  Text-to-speech technologies have other important business
  implications. For example, there is little difference between a
  person who is blind, and a person who is illiterate, from the
  standpoint of not being able to read. Worldwide there are more
  than 1.1 billion consumers who are illiterate. This can be a real
  market-limiter for companies wishing to market public access
  information systems on a global basis.
  Speaking of people who are unable to read, I can't read. Of course
  I can read English but not any other language. In fact, it
  wouldn't be inappropriate to consider me a person with a
  disability from the standpoint of not being able to access and use
  foreign-language based information systems.
  This is an important point in light of the fact that nearly half-
  a-billion tourists travel to foreign countries each year.
  The number of foreign-born citizens, living in the United States
  is expected to increase to more than 9% of our population by the
  year 2000. This will represent nearly 30 million consumers.
  Extrapolating these data to a worldwide level brings the number of
  people, who may not be fluent in the language native to the
  information systems being used in the countries in which they
  live, to 300 million consumers. The "assistive technology" of
  multilingual text-to-speech synthesis has the potential to enable
  these individuals to benefit from the information age in ways that
  were never before possible.
  If one were to total the number of people represented by each of
  the consumer groups I just mentioned, including overlap, we are
  talking about more than 2 billion consumers.
  But it doesn't stop there. Consumer electronic products are
  beginning to disable people. These technologies include pagers,
  cell phones, laptops, desktops, personal digital assistants,
  palmtop computers and smart phones. All of these products are
  getting smaller. From a competitive standpoint, the smaller the
  better. There's just one small problem. The smaller these devices
  become, the more difficult it becomes to read their displays and
  use their controls. The ability to use shrinking devices is
  compounded by another small problem. The average person using them
  is getting older. And, unfortunately, along with increased age
  comes increased disabilities.
  People are living longer; The sixty-plus age group will make up
  16% of the total world population by 2030; There were sixteen
  workers for every retiree in 1950. This ration is expected to fall
  to just 2:1 by 2010. Today, worldwide, there are an estimated 360
  million consumers 65 years of age and older. Not a small consumer
  group. Were it not for assistive technologies, being brought into
  the mainstream, many of our senior citizens would be
  disenfranchised from our information society.
  Not only is the average consumer getting older, they are becoming
  more mobile. It's tough using cell phones and computers while
  driving a car unless, of course, you like hurting yourself.
  New neural digital signal processing technologies are being
  developed in disability research labs across the country. These
  devices, and the types being pioneered by companies such as
  BioControl, are now being used to develop low cost wireless input
  devices for mainstream business use. Using neural signals
  generated by the brain, eye, or muscles to control computer
  functions is now possible.
  These types of input devices work quite well in mobile, hands-busy
  environments. For that reason, it's no small coincidence that
  these technologies are also being pioneered by scientists such as
  Grant McMillan and his colleagues at the Alternative Control
  Technology Laboratory of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton
  to enable fighter pilots to adjust non-critical controls in their
  fighter planes, without needing to use of their hands or voices.
  I am convinced that strengthening the ability to meet the needs of
  people with disabilities through Federal technology transfer would
  bring with it many benefits. I believe supporting programs which
  proactively encourage collaboration between rehabilitation
  engineering centers and Federal Laboratories could shorten product
  development life-cycles, reduce costs and increase the quality of
  products currently under development.
  It is my hope, Chairwoman Morella, and members of the Subcommittee
  on Technology, that you support efforts such as these to the
  greatest extent possible.
  I would like to close my testimony with a quote from a young man I
  worked with four years ago. His name is Randy Gilbert. He's a
  software programmer who just happens to be quadriplegic.
  When asked what his thoughts were on being disabled he said,
  "Disabilities only appear in the eyes of the beholder; they
  disappear through the eyes of the innovator."
  Thanks, again, for your time and for this wonderful opportunity to
  address your subcommittee.

                             PREPARED TESTIMONY BY
                             DAVID H. HERSHBERGER
                            PRENTKE ROMICH COMPANY
                          SUBCOMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY
                            TUESDAY, JULY 15, 1997
  Chairwoman Morella and members of the Subcommittee on Technology,
  I want to thank you for inviting me to testify at this hearing on
  "Meeting the Needs of People with Disabilities through Federal
  Technology Transfer." My name is Dave Hershberger and I am Vice
  President of Product Development at the Prentke Romich Company.
  Prentke Romich Company and Augrnentative Communication:
  Prentke Romich Company was founded in 1966 for the sole purpose of
  providing technology for people with disabilities. This has
  remained the company's only activity throughout its history.
  Today, this Ohio-based company employs 150 people throughout the
  United States. Prentke Romich Company supplies assistive devices
  throughout the United States and also exports an increasing number
  of products.
  Prentke Romich Company's primary products are speech generation
  devices for people who cannot speak. Using microcomputer
  technology, a language organization system called Minspeak and
  thirty years of experience, we develop and manufacture devices
  which allow people to generate speech by pressing keys on a
  keyboard, moving a joystick, pointing their head or using
  virtually any controlled muscle movement. These devices, often
  referred to as Augmentative Communication Devices, enable many
  people who were previously able to communicate only basic needs to
  their attendants to have much greater communication opportunities.
  They can join in conversations, write letters, take notes, give
  speeches, use the telephone and more recently, participate in
  electronic communication through the Internet. Providing a means
  of communication opens doors for these individuals. Many now have
  the opportunity to attend school and/or to become employed.
  Advancements in Technology:
  Technological developments have had a profound role in assistive
  devices for people with disabilities. Many of the products
  available today would have been inconceivable with the technology
  of twenty years ago. Some of these innovations have been developed
  by assistive technology companies, some by Rehabilitation
  Engineering Research Centers and many others by developers in the
  consumer market.
  The computer revolution has resulted in a lightning pace in the
  advancements of electronics and technology. This revolution has
  had a profound impact on people with disabilities. First, although
  not universally the case, many of the new products are easier to
  use, or at least to modify for use, by individuals with
  disabilities. Consider the remote controls which allow us to
  control the TV set from our armchairs. These conveniences can also
  be used by people who are unable walk across the room to change
  channels. A second benefit of accelerated advancement in more
  sophisticated consumer devices is the accompanying advancement in
  the components required to make the devices. The components
  required to produce faster and better computers are also used to
  make more sophisticated wheelchairs controls or augrnentative
  communication aids.
  Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs) which are
  funded           through NIDRR have also contributed to the level
  of assistive technology           available today. The first
  microprocessor-based augmentative           communication aid was
  developed at the Trace Research and Development           Center
  at The University of Wisconsin. The first optical headpointer and
  the first female voice to be used in augmentative communication
  systems were also developed at RERCs.
  Other advancements come from the developments within the assistive
  technology companies. Like many medium sized technology companies,
  Prentke Romich Company has always had a strong Research and
  Development component. As a commercial company, most research
  activities           are funded through moneys generated through
  product sales. We have also           received funding through the
  Small Business Innovation Research Program.
  Because of the relatively small size of our market, we must be
  judicious in           how we spend our research and development
  dollars. Specifically, we must           take advantage of
  technological developments occurring elsewhere and focus
  our own efforts toward adapting the technology so that it can be
  used by           people with disabilities. For example, rather
  than developing the next           generation of speech
  synthesizers, we concentrate on implementing the latest
  synthesizers into equipment that can be operated by individuals
  with severe disabilities. Also, assistive technology companies
  must concentrate their efforts in areas where other industries are
  less likely to spend their own research dollars. Research projects
  in which Prentke Romich has participated in recent years include:
  - specialized scanning techniques for faster speech generation
  - hands-free computer operation
  - augmentative communication devices that can be worn by an
  - visual language representation
  Despite all of the current efforts applied to researching
  assistive technology, we believe that there is much more that can
  be done to address the needs of people with physical and cognitive
  disabilities. The more that is understood about technology and the
  needs of people with disabilities, the greater the opportunities
  appear. As an example, Prentke Romich Company is working jointly
  with a team at the Applied Science and Engineering Laboratories at
  the University of Delaware (also an RERC) to implement artificial
  intelligence into communication devices. The goal of the project
  is to take the telegraphic and incomplete speech from children
  with low cognitive skills and generate complete, grammatically
  correct sentences that can be understood by a greater number of
  I am encouraged that the role of the National Laboratories
  relative to assistive technology is being discussed. Based on past
  experiences, additional research and development applied to
  assistire technology will lead to making the lives of individuals
  with disabilities more fulfilling and productive. From the
  perspective of an assistive technology company, I can see several
  opportunities for cooperation between the National Laboratories
  and the RERCs in making technology available to the people who
  would receive the greatest benefit from it.
  In the examples that have already been cited, developments at
  RERCs helped seed and advance the Augmentative Communication
  device industry. Additional technology from the Federal
  Laboratories may have an equal benefit in numerous assistive
  technology areas. Transferring these developments from the
  Laboratories into assistive technology should cost substantially
  less than duplicating the research in the assistive technology
  companies or RERCs. Meanwhile the expertise of the assistive
  technology companies can be tapped to make the technology more
  suitable and affordable for consumers and to set up means of
  distribution, training and support for the consumers.
  Secondly, greater information transfer would be beneficial.
  Information from RERCs, assistive technology companies and others
  within the disabilities field could create greater awareness at
  Federal Laboratories of the technological hurdles faced by people
  with disabilities. Likewise, greater knowledge of developments at
  Federal Laboratories would help those of us who develop assistive
  technology. Much of this information exchange is aided by the
  World Wide Web and is already under way.
  As the ADA and recent reauthorization of IDEA confirm, we are
  privileged to live in a country that acknowledges that people with
  disabilities have the same rights as all Americans. For the past
  fifteen years I have had the opportunity to work in the field of
  assistive technology and have seen many individuals live more
  fulfilling lives despite their disabilities with the use of this
  assistive technology. I commend you for exploring possibilities of
  enriching the lives of these individuals even further.

                             PREPARED TESTIMONY BY
                               JOSEPH A. LAHOUD
                             LC TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
                            TECHNOLOGY SUBCOMMITTEE
                            TUESDAY, JULY 15, 1997
  Eyegaze -
  An Assistive Technology,
  A Multiple Use Technology, and
  an Example of Technology Transfer
  I appreciate the opportunity to appear here today to discuss the
  Eyegaze technology, which is a working model of a collaborative
  arrangement between a small company and the federal laboratory
  LC Technologies is a small company in Fairfax, Virginia
  specializing in the development and commercialization of a unique
  technology involving the automatic tracking of the movement of the
  human eye, which we call Eyegaze. By combining a video camera with
  a computer, the location of a person's gazepoint on a computer
  screen can be accurately determined. As a fundamental human-
  computer or man-machine interaction technology, there are many
  applications of Eyegaze that have both short-range and long-range
  commercial potential. One of the most important applications, and
  one which is available on the market today, is a
  computer/communication system for people with physical
  disabilities who cannot use traditional keyboards or other
  computer input devices that require hand and finger movement. With
  Eyegaze, these people can now be totally productive on a computer
  system by merely moving their eyes.
  There is a long and complex history associated with the
  development of automatic eyetracking, going back more than thirty
  years. The initial pioneering work was actually sponsored by the
  Department of Defense. In the early 1960's, the Air Force was
  interested in providing alternate means for pilots to interface
  with their complex equipment. There were some early successes in
  the laboratory, but a variety of technological obstacles prevented
  the transfer of automatic eyetracking to the real world.
  Building on the work done by the Air Force and by others, and
  using only our own resources, LC Technologies, starting in the
  late 1980's, made some important technological breakthroughs.
  These breakthroughs enabled us to develop and begin marketing the
  Eyegaze Computer/Communication System for people with
  disabilities. To date we have delivered more than one hundred of
  these devices across the country and overseas.
  LC Technologies' goals are to continue the development of the
  Eyegaze technology, to improve and enhance it for its many future
  applications, but to make certain at all times that the needs of
  the community of disabled people are met with the best products at
  the most economical prices. It is critically important that future
  Eyegaze products be more lightweight, more miniaturized and
  portable, and more versatile than they are now, and that they get
  reduced to reasonable price levels.
  The principal strategy that LC Technologies is employing at the
  present time to acquire the resources we need to continue our
  Eyegaze development, is partnering with other organizations.
  Initiatives and resources of the Federal Government represent some
  of the opportunities we have to obtain critical funding and
  technology expertise. With regard to the use of Eyegaze as an
  assistive technology for people with disabilities, initiatives of
  the Federal Government are essentially the only opportunities we
  have to fund our research and development.
  The Small Business Innovation Research Program, the Small Business
  Technology Transfer Research Program, and a wide variety of
  programs involving collaborative arrangements between small
  companies and Federal Government Research Laboratories, are
  examples of opportunities for LC Technologies. Unfortunately, only
  a small percentage of the funds available through the above
  programs address the R&D needs of the community of people with
  A very important partnering arrangement we have formed during the
  past two years is with the University of Delaware' s
  Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC). As one of
  several RERC's supported by the National Institute on Disability
  and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), and the one designated for
  Augmentative and Alternative Communication research, we have been
  receiving valuable assistance and guidance on matters related to
  assistive technology, specifically our Eyegaze technology, and on
  the coordination of Eyegaze commercialization activities with the
  needs of consumers inner marketplace.
  It is an extremely unique situation and one that is immensely
  beneficial to persons with disabilities, for our company to have
  the opportunity to form a partnership with the RERC at the
  University of Delaware. This partnership is particularly effective
  and has enormous long-range potential, because it is an on-going
  working relationship, rather than a situation where results are
  handed off after the work is done. We believe the LC
  Technologies/University of Delaware RERC partnership is just one
  of many excellent examples of industry/university/government
  partnerships that demonstrate how maximum returns can be achieved
  with minimum resources, for the benefit of people with
  We have heard elsewhere here today that the National Aeronautics
  and Space Administration has a major commitment to explore ways to
  expand the use of its space-related research results to other
  applications. This commitment includes forming collaborative
  arrangements with the private sector, with a particular interest
  in the assistive technology industry. LC Technologies recently
  entered into a Technology Cooperation Agreement with the NASA/Jet
  Propulsion Laboratory, which will provide us with some key
  optical, electronic and manufacturing capabilities necessary for
  the design and fabrication of miniaturized, versatile and low-cost
  Eyegaze devices.
  The entire Federal R&D establishment has a major commitment to a
  long-range program designed to predict the onset of fatigue,
  drowsiness and lack of attention in drivers, pilots, air traffic
  controllers and others involved in critical activities where there
  is a major concern about safety and human error. The FAA, as a
  strong leader in this program, is particularly interested in the
  Eyegaze technology and its potential to play a major role in
  future fatigue prediction systems.
  LC Technologies received a Small Business Innovative Research
  contract from the Naval Research Laboratory to devise a solution
  to an ambient light problem that currently constrains automatic
  eyetracking systems. We demonstrated a workable solution to this
  problem under our Phase I contract, and we are looking forward to
  a continuation of this effort.
  At this point it is important for me to repeat and to emphasize my
  earlier words about LC Technologies' commitment, which is to make
  certain at all times that the needs of the community of disabled
  people are met with the best products at the most economical
  prices. All of our collaborative efforts with others, regardless
  of the specific applications being explored are designed, first
  and foremost to make the Eyegaze technology more available and
  more useful for people with disabilities.
  As a representative of the emerging assistive technology industry
  in the United States, I strongly encourage a continuation of the
  federal government's commitment to devote as many federal research
  laboratory resources as possible to collaborative efforts with
  companies such as mine.
  Again, I appreciate the opportunity to speak here today, I applaud
  the work of this Subcommittee, and I look forward to working with
  you in the future.

End of Document

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