Executive Director, Smith-Kettlewell Institute
Director, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Blindness and Low Vision
Blindness, low vision and its rehabilitation has long been a major focus at Smith-Kettlewell, which houses what is probably the largest single group of researchers in this topic area in the world. We have a distinguished multidisciplinary group of colleagues in our Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center to help address these problems. My own training was in engineering, and our staff incorporates people with backgrounds in ophthalmology, optometry, psychology, audition, engineering, computer vision, and computer programming. Our research goal is to develop and apply new scientific knowledge and practical, cost-effective devices or strategies to better understand, assess and address the real-world problems of blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind consumers.
Our landmark SKI Study, a longitudinal assessment of visual impairment in an older population, has contributed greatly to our knowledge of the ways in which different aspects of vision function are impaired in elders, and the impact of these impairments on everyday task performance. Past pioneering R&D projects including the development of Tactile Vision Substitution Systems, "Talking Signs®" remotely readable signage for blind travelers, communication technology for deaf-blind persons, and jobsite instrumentation for blind employees have been highly influential in leading to life improvements for our target population. Currently, our work encompasses many exciting projects on computer vision applications to allow blind persons to read visual displays, analyze intersections or read signs; access to maps, graphics and videos; STEM education; and research to assist those with moderate visual impairments and dual sensory loss in tasks ranging from reading to travel. More information is available on the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center page (insert link).
Primary funding for our Center’s projects comes from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, with other important sources of support including the National Eye Institute and The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute.
- Visual Acuity in the Oldest Old (PDF) in Research to Prevent Blindness