The Smith-Kettlewell Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) develops new technology and methods for understanding, assessment and rehabilitation of blindness and visual impairment. Our target population consists of persons who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind. Principal funding for the Center is through a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, with additional funding from other grants and sources for projects related to these overall goals. Projects fall into the following main areas:
1. Infant Vision Screening and Rehabilitation
In this project area our goal is to explore new technology and methods for early detection and preventive rehabilitation of visual impairment. The project is carried out by the laboratory of William Good, MD.
2. Educational Technology and Graphics Access
3. Vocational and Daily Living Technology
To help blind individuals obtain and retain employment, we have developed many job-related instruments with auditory and tactile output, including microprocessor-based job instrumentation and speech modules for adapting measuring instruments. Our present focus in this topic area is on access to appliances and displays found in the home and in the workplace. We are also actively engaged in helping enhance access to computers and the World Wide Web.
4. Orientation and Mobility (Wayfinding)
Our Talking Signs project provides a means for the blind pedestrian to locate and instantly read "signs" from a distance using inexpensive infrared transmitters placed at sign locations. We are also developing computer vision techniques to help provide information about intersections and signs where Talking Signs are not available. For blind and visually impaired wheelchair users, we are exploring new technologies and methods to enhance safety and independence.
5. Low Vision Tests and Technology
In the SKI Study, we are investigating techniques for improved assessment and prediction of visual impairments, using tests which relate more closely to the real-world visual problems of the elderly and visually impaired. Dr. Fletcher is developing new tests for assessing the locations of scotomata, and Dr. Mackeben's laboratory is investigating eccentric viewing techniques for reading.
6. Dual Sensory Loss
We are developing a new robotic hand system (known as "Dexter") capable of performing manual fingerspelling--facilitating telephone communication, face-to-face communication, or computer access for individuals who are both deaf and blind. We are also beginning investigations into the problems caused by milder forms of dual sensory loss.
Five Year Summary Reports
RERC Highlights (Powerpoint Presentation)
Anne Fung, M.D.
Gunilla Haegerstrom-Portnoy, O.D., Ph.D.
Lori Lott, Ph.D.
Marilyn Schneck, Ph.D.
Lee Stewart, M.D.
2318 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
Tel: (415) 345-2110,2114
TTY (415) 345-2290
Fax: (415) 345-2196