Welcome to the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities Web Site

Dr. David Braddock
David Braddock

When we refer to “cognitive disabilities” on this web site we are primarily referring to intellectual and developmental disabilities, persistent mental illness, brain injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. These conditions affect over 28.5 million American citizens – over nine percent of the U.S. population. Prevalence rates for cognitive disability will grow as our nation ages and as advances in the medical and rehabilitative sciences extend longevity.

Cognitive disability stems from a substantial limitation in one's capacity to think, including conceptualizing, planning and sequencing thoughts and actions, remembering, and interpreting the meaning of social and emotional cues, and of numbers and symbols. Common consequences of cognitive disability include stigma and discrimination, social isolation, difficulty communicating, poverty, and institutionalization. Moreover, as societies become more technology reliant, a rapidly growing “digital divide” is developing between persons who are competent to use emerging technologies and those with cognitive limitations who are not competent to do so without adaptive personalized modifications and training.

The University of Colorado (CU) is a formidable research enterprise. We currently rank seventh among all public and private universities in the United States in research expenditures in science and engineering. Sponsored research in fiscal year 2011-2012 exceeded $815 million to all campuses. When we invest the Institute's research resources in project support and matching funds for CU faculty, we seek to help them leverage cognitive disability research grants from external funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

In addition to co-funding a University of Colorado-based Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Advancing Cognitive Technologies (RERC-ACT) with NIDRR, the Coleman Institute has directly supported numerous exciting research projects led by CU investigators. These projects have involved several focus areas including engineering solutions and applied research and development related to cognitive accessibility on the web. The Institute has also supported research on aging and developmental disabilities, potential pharmacological interventions to prevent decline in cognitive function, and neuroscience projects. Examples of Coleman Institute-supported research are featured on this site in the Research and Development section. The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Project, funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is co-sponsored by the Institute in partnership with the Department of Psychiatry in the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The Coleman Institute also provides grant funding through the Coleman Institute Fellowship Program for faculty fellows, post doctoral fellows and graduate fellows.

Since 2001 we have organized a national conference, the annual Coleman Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology. The Coleman Conference brings together faculty researchers from across the University of Colorado, disability leaders, federal agency heads, service providers, and prominent scientists and engineers from universities and industry. The conference is explicitly designed to explore research frontiers, best practices, and collaborations in cognitive disability and technology.

The Institute is also forging new territory in public policy. For example, we began to explore the articulation of a right to technology access for people with cognitive disabilities at our 2010 conference. At our 2013 conference we revealed our progress. The Thirteenth Annual Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology was held on October 2, 2013 at the OMNI hotel in Broomfield, between Denver and Boulder. The conference was titled “Declaring the Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access: A National Declaration.” We are pleased to again count among our conference co-sponsors Alliance Colorado, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), The Arc, and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). Click here to find out more.

Our 2012 conference was titled “The State of the States in Cognitive Disability and Technology: 2012.” It addressed the intersection of the state of the economy, disability policy and technology on the quality of life of people with cognitive disabilities. The conference drew over 450 attendees from 39 states.

Our web site provides information about the research and related activities we support at CU as well as links to presentations and posters from twelve Coleman Institute conferences since 2001. There is a special section on cloud computing with whitepapers and other materials from past Coleman institute pre-conference workshops. The Cognitive Technology Literature Database is designed to provide a comprehensive, searchable bibliography of journal articles summarizing research on cognitive technologies for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). We also provide links to a nationwide array of cognitive disability and technology resources in universities, state agencies, parent and professional associations, private corporations, and the federal government.

Explore our site, use it to link to resources in cognitive disability and technology, and please return frequently.

David Braddock, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Vice President, University of Colorado System
Executive Director, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities
Coleman-Turner Chair and Professor of Psychiatry