NYU ABILITY Project Honored by NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities presented the NYU ABILITY Project with the ADA Sapolin Award in a ceremony yesterday evening at Gracie Mansion.

Each year, the Mayor and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities present four ADA Sapolin Awards, named after Matthew Sapolin, the late commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to increasing accessibility for people with disabilities under the titles of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Mayor de Blasio and I are honored to award the NYU ABILITY Project an ADA award for their fearless and innovative approach to developing tools that will improve the lives of people with disabilities – from creating a platform for people with visual disabilities to learn coding and processing, to umbrellas for motorized wheelchair users. Their human-centered approach to designing assistive and adaptive technologies has, and will continue to, enhance the lives of people with disabilities and empower them to engage in all aspects of their lives,” said Victor Calise, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

Professor Anita Perr (center) accepts the ADA Sapolin Award on behalf of the ABILITY Project.

The NYU ABILITY Project is an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to the development of adaptive and assistive technologies for people with disabilities. It fosters collaboration between engineers, designers, educators, speech and occupational therapists, and individuals with disabilities to create opportunities for teaching, learning, and research. For example, through the ABILITY Project, NYU offered a course this spring on vision-related assistive technologies that was co-taught by two assistive technology specialists, one of whom is blind.

In 2015, the ABILITY Project partnered with AT&T to lead the ConnectAbility Challenge, a three-month technology challenge designed spur innovation for people with physical, social, emotional, and cognitive disabilities. The competition, which coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, resulted in the submission of 63 software, wearable, and other technology solutions from developers in 16 states and 15 countries aimed at enhancing the lives of people with disabilities.

“At the NYU Ability Project, all of our work involves and is informed by people with disabilities. Our collaborations with people throughout New York City are helping to push forward participation in desired self-care, work, and avocational activities,” said Anita Perr, co-director of the NYU ABILITY Project and a clinical associate professor of occupational therapy at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and with Commissioner Calise in order that people with disabilities in New York City and everywhere can participate in their desired using the assistive technologies they need or want.”

“It is an incredible honor for the NYU Ability Project to be recognized by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities,” said R. Luke DuBois, co-director of the NYU ABILITY Project and an associate professor of Integrated Digital Media at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.  “Commissioner Calise and his team do incredible work that benefits all New Yorkers, and we at NYU are immensely proud of the contributions that our colleagues and students are making in assistive technology and adaptive design, bringing our strong commitment to research in the service of society.”