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Assistive Technology Transfer Update

 

Title: T2RERC highlighted in T2 journal
Author: T2RERC
Published: 2003
Publication: Assistive Technology Transfer Update: Vol. 5 Issue 1 (Spring)

In 1998, the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology Transfer (T2RERC) received a five year grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The mission of the T2RERC is to facilitate the introduction of assistive technology products into the marketplace and to improve the practice of technology transfer. The T2RERC first developed a comprehensive model for technology transfer. In 1999, a groundbreaking article titled "Understanding Technology Transfer," was published in the Journal of Assistive Technology. This article described a detailed technology transfer model and its applicability to the field of assistive technology.

From 1999 through 2002, the T2RERC refined its practices and broadened the scope of its activities. Technology transfer partners included universities, federal laboratories, large and small companies, and independent inventors. T2RERC efforts resulted in improved A/T product performance, mainstream products that are equally usable by persons with disabilities, accessible computer hardware and software and universally designed household products. Many articles summarizing this work can be found in Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (RESNA) Conference Proceedings and the Journal of Technology and Disability. The T2RERC successfully demonstrated the validity and generality of its technology transfer practices and model.

In 2002, the T2RERC convened the State of the Science Conference on Technology Transfer in Washington, D.C. Presentations explored the role of public policy, law, intellectual property, economics, best practices, modeling, and evaluation on technology transfer. There were also interesting presentations on future trends. Speakers included leading experts from the federal government, the federal laboratory system, research universities, private sector consultants, economists, and lawyers. Conference presentations are available online at http://cosmos.buffalo.edu/t2rerc/dissemination/. Following the conference, each speaker authored a peer reviewed article for a special issue of the Journal of Technology Transfer which will be published in the fall of 2003.

Looking forward, the T2RERC has achieved national stature in the applied field of technology transfer but new challenges and exciting opportunities await. Demographic trends, aging into or aging with disabilities, are creating new markets for assistive technology products. The powerful concept of universal design is bringing formerly niche disability populations into the mainstream marketplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act as implemented through Section 508 and Federal Procurement Requirements has created a tremendous economic incentive by requiring that all products purchased by federal agencies must (in general) be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. Technology transfer in the field of assistive technology is growing ever more complex making the expertise and experience of the T2RERC ever more valuable.

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