Birmingham City University is leading new research to develop vital, cutting-edge technology to improve accessibility and support for people with disabilities after securing funding from tech giants Google, Adobe and Meta.
Associate Professor Dr. Chris Creed, a human-computer interaction (HCI) researcher at the School of Computing and Digital Technology, has successfully secured the funding grants to explore new solutions around expanding opportunities, participation and inclusiveness for people with disabilities around the world.
Adobe grant supports Dr. Creed and his team by developing software that allows people with physical disabilities, resulting from diseases such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, to control popular graphics editing applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator. This research will enable designers of all levels to engage in digital creative activities for personal projects and the production of professional quality results.
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is also funding other research in a similar area, which focuses on improving accessibility and experiences in the rapidly growing fields of virtual and augmented reality (VR/ AR) for people with disabilities across a wide range of visual, physical, auditory and cognitive impairments.
As part of their research, Dr Creed, Dr Ian Williams and Dr Maite Frutos-Pascual of Birmingham City University’s Digital Media Technology Lab (DMT Lab) are currently leading a series of multidisciplinary events for academics, charities, people with disabilities and disability specialists to help accelerate research innovation in this area.
National charities, special needs colleges and schools, disability employment specialists, disability arts organizations and people with different forms of impairment should all benefit from the team’s findings.
The research funding provided by Google will investigate alternatives to using traditional computing tools such as a mouse and keyboard to help people with physical disabilities working in software engineering. Control of consumer digital systems in technical fields typically requires extensive use of common input devices and can be particularly problematic for users with disabilities. The School of Computing and Digital Technology will develop multi-modal systems and processes, using gaze, voice control and switches, to improve key activities of users with disabilities in areas such as coding and application development .