UGR BLOG #1

The working title to this research is “Mobile Apps Help Students with Disabilities Independently Manage Tasks” However, once we further define what the specific type of Mobile Apps that we will be testing, it will be clarified more in the title.

This is my first time participating in the Undergraduate Research Grant program, so my overall goal is to learn more about the research and experimentation process. Specifically for this project, my goal is to be able to pin-point what features and navigation requirements are necessary for the disability population to easily use the mobile app and also how these apps can be used to help students in their weekly schedule at school or college. Some of the research questions for this study include: What type of navigation system is most appropriate? Audio? Touch? Voice-recognition? At what points do students use the app during the week and how does this effect the type of apps that are most beneficial? What are the main features that need to be coded into the app? Can a mobile app increase productivity for this population, in addition to independence?

As I will be researching a mobile app use among those with disabilities, Dr. Lawler has appointed a student at Pace University with Cerebral Palsy to act as an official representative of the population, and also aide in some of the research and methods. One of the methods will be hands on testing of 3 selected apps from the Apple Store by a small sample population of those with a disability. This will allow for immediate feedback as well as primary data. Another method to collect information will be the W3C database, which sets the parameters for requirements of applications and other technologies for the disabilities community.

So far, I have started to determine what the test categories will be for the survey and observation that will take place in the testing phase. Dr. Lawler plans to bring a small group of about 10 students from AHRC for a couple of sessions of testing. During these testing sessions, the AHRC students will be using a variety of apps and rating them on the categories such as, functionality, visual appeal, ease-of-use, etc. From these surveys, the information will be analyzed to determine the specifics of what makes the application useful to the AHRC students and why.

An additional component to this research study would be taking the information learned in the surveys and observational sessions and applying it to making a brand new application that incorporates all of the necessary features. The Pace University student with disabilities that I will be working with will also be a great resource and aid in developing a custom application that is not available on the market.

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