Monash University researchers have developed personalized electronic toolkits to help foster STEM knowledge, logical thinking and creativity in people living with intellectual disabilities.
TronicBoards, created by researchers at the Faculty of Information Technology (TI), are a range of custom color-coded printed circuit boards with large controls and recognizable symbols tailored to facilitate the creation of circuits for various intellectual abilities.
PhD Candidate, Principal Investigator Hashini Senaratne said a variety of simplified electronic toolkits are increasingly available to help people engage with technology. However, they are often inaccessible to people with intellectual disabilities, who suffer from various cognitive and physical impairments.
“We developed TronicBoards as an organized set of electronic modules to fill this accessibility gap. These boards can be combined with conductive tape and other electronic components, including LEDs, vibration motors, buzzers and push buttons, etc. to create and demonstrate working electronic circuits,” Ms. Senaratne said.
“The design of TronicBoards was informed by workshops led by co-author, Dr. Kirsten Ellis, involving 148 adults living with intellectual disabilities. Participants were guided and supported by researchers and support workers from various organizations support for people with disabilities.
“We found that participants, with varying degrees of support, were able to logically interact with boards, complete functional circuits, and in some cases were also able to add creativity and create objects personally. meaningful, like adding lights to a mirror and a music box that can change melodies with a slide switch.
Research co-author Dr. Swamy Ananthanarayan said the overarching goal of TronicBoards is to provide an opportunity for marginalized communities to move from being passive recipients to actively participating in the design of various technologies.
“We envision a future where tools and systems are flexible enough for people with disabilities to make smart artifacts and potentially their own assistive devices independently or with limited support from caregivers and disability support workers. “, said Dr Ananthanarayan.
Through the workshops, data was collected to improve future iterations of the TronicBoards. Researchers are working to integrate future editions of Braille panels to improve accessibility for people living with visual impairments.
The research results will be presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems to be held in New Orleans, USA, from April 30 to May 5.
Principal Investigator, Hashini Senaratne, from the Faculty of Computer Science’s Department of Human-Centered Computing is available for interviews.
To read the conference document, please visit: https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3491102.3517483