Annual Conferences on Cognitive Disability and Technology

The Coleman Institute annual conference is a signature Institute activity with a university, regional, and national reputation. Institute Executive Director David Braddock, PhD, has organized and chaired 14 conferences since the Institute’s founding in 2001. Poster sessions on cognitive technology topics are at the heart of the conferences. CU faculty and students display their research, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration across CU’s campuses and with research partners worldwide. These sessions highlight progress and stimulate academic discourse involving colleagues from other research universities. In addition, the speakers, panelists and participants at these conferences represent an extremely diverse community of concern where knowledge and insight are shared not only by academics, but also by leaders in government, industry and the disabilities communities including parents, advocates and service providers. The Institute’s 15th Annual Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology will be held on October 15, 2015 at the OMNI Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield Colorado.

2001-2014 Conferences

On October 9, 2014 the Coleman Institute hosted its fourteenth annual conference on cognitive disability and technology in conjunction with the ANCOR Technology Summit on October 3. The highlight of the conference was the launch of a new declaration of rights: The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access. Conference participants had the opportunity to endorse the declaration. In addition, featured speakers discussed the implications of such rights and provided updates on technology and cognitive disability with respect to health, security and privacy and the state of the science.

Agendas, a full list of speakers, and links to presentations and posters for all previous Coleman institute conferences is available on the Annual Conferences page of the Institute’s web site.

Past conference speakers have included:

  • Michael Bérubé, PhD, Paterno Family Professor in English Literature and Science, Technology and Society at Pennsylvania State University and author of Life as We Know It, 2008;
  • Peter Blanck, PhD, JD, Chairman, Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, 2012;
  • John Seely Brown, Chief Scientist, Xerox Corporation, 2002;
  • Vinton Cerf, currently Chief Technology Officer at Google, Inc., (and co-designer of the protocols and architecture of the Internet), 2004;
  • Bill Coleman, Founder and former CEO, BEA Systems, Founder and CEO of Cassatt, Inc. and Claudia Coleman, founding donors of the Coleman Institute, 2001-2007;
  • Marty Ford, JD, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy, The Arc; 2013;
  • Robert Freedman, MD, Chair, CU Department of Psychiatry, 2002;
  • James K. Galbraith, PhD, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations, Professor of Government, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas Austin, 2009;
  • Thomas K. Gilhool, JD, Former Chief Counsel, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia; former Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and legal champion who argued the seminal case in 1971 that established the right of children with intellectual disabilities to a public education, 2010;
  • Temple Grandin, PhD, Professor, Colorado State University; NY Times best-selling author of Thinking in Pictures and Other Reports from My Life with Autism, and Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior; 2006;
  • Raymond Kurzweil, inventor and entrepreneur, 2003;
  • Jay Lundell, PhD, Digital Health Group, Intel Corporation, 2009;
  • William Pound, Executive Director, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 2012;
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Executive VP, Kennedy Foundation, 2005;
  • Timothy Shriver, PhD, Chairman of the Board, International Special Olympics, 2005;
  • Sue Swenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, Office on Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 2014;
  • Steven Tingus, Director, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, 2004, 2002;
  • Eliza Varney, LLM, PhD, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, Keele University, United Kingdom, 2013
  • Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research! America, 2004;
  • Michael Wehmeyer, PhD, Professor of Special Education, University of Kansas; Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, 2014

Research and Development Support

A core activity of the Institute is to provide grants for cognitive disability and technology research and development to CU faculty on all campuses of the university. Since its inception, the Institute has provided more than 150 grants for seed funding and/or laboratory support for research, matching funds to assist CU faculty in securing significant research funding from Federal and private agencies, and support for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to pursue their research careers. In addition, the Institute has provided support for special projects involving academic initiatives and mission-related conference support.

A major investment of the Coleman Institute has been in the co-funding of two federal government center grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). In 2004, NIDRR initiated funding for the nation’s first Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for the Advancement of Cognitive Technologies (RERC-ACT). In a peer reviewed national competition, the University of Colorado succeeded in securing the Center. In 2009, the grant was re-competed. Once again, the University of Colorado received funding. The combined federal grants exceed $9 million and the combined commitment by the Coleman Institute for RERC-ACT I (2004-2009) and RERC-ACT II (2009-2014) was over $1.6 million. Cathy Bodine, Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Anschutz Medical Center leads the center as principal investigator.

The RERC-ACT I incorporated 13 separate projects on the AMC, UCB, UCCS, and UCD campuses in nine different academic units. Research partners from four other research universities in Illinois, California, Michigan and Kansas also participated. Other collaborators included the Institute for Matching Persons and Technology, Inc., AbleLink Technologies, Inc., AT Sciences, LLC, and CaringFamily. Projects fell into five categories: needs assessment projects; community living and technology; health, family support and technology; education, employment and technology; and technology standards development.

RERC-ACT II builds on past successes and introduces new elements of research and development of cognitive technologies across the life span. Efforts are focused in three main areas: creating a product usability testing facility to focus rigorous industry-standard product testing protocols on cognitive assistive technology, developing a core software/sensor platform to support mobile animated agents used for multiple applications, and developing infrastructure standards, long considered an important missing link for information technology access by people with cognitive disabilities.

From non-linear job coaching to socially assistive robots, the projects are challenging, creative, and show great promise in improving quality of life for people with cognitive disabilities, their families and their caregivers.

The RERC-ACT centers are not the only recipients of Coleman Institute funding. The Institute has also supported research and development across a broad spectrum including “smart” transportation systems, “smart” home residential care systems, a personal digital assistant (PDA) based speech training program for children with Down syndrome and patients with Parkinson’s, recreation technology adapted for people with cognitive disabilities, computer-based technology for teaching reading to students with cognitive limitations, and web-based resources for teachers, parents, and students with disabilities in the public schools.

Funding has also been provided for software solutions that map on to new open source opportunities, like Google’s Android project, and initiatives to promote accessibility to the World Wide Web for people with cognitive disabilities, including policy and regulatory issues, single sign-on systems, content adjustments, and specialized user support. The Institute has organized several workshops, roundtables, and produced whitepapers on the implications and future potential of Cloud Computing as well as a working paper discussing the rights to technology access for people with cognitive disabilities. As a result, the Institute has a national presence in the area of cognitive technology on the Web, especially in the development of standards and in helping to set policy directions.

The Institute supports research and development projects on a wide variety of other kinds of technologies and applications. Advances have been made in areas such as batteryless-wireless power for sensors and devices. Biomedical science and technology projects funded by the Institute include a drug delivery system for conditions such as schizophrenia and epilepsy, immunological studies of AIDS/HIV with potential pharmacological interventions, the development of bio-compatible electrodes for in vivo recording and stimulation in the brain using Cellular Engineering Micro Systems and wireless telemetry, an investigation of drugs to prevent decline in cognitive function, and non-human stem cell research in a mouse model of Down syndrome.

The Coleman Institute works with faculty and the University’s Office of Technology Transfer (TTO) to encourage commercialization of research and development-generated intellectual property for the benefit of people with cognitive disabilities and in some cases, for the advancement of biomedical and biotechnical applications with wider society benefit as well. The Institute also participates in partial ownership of the intellectual property based on invested grant funds to faculty who also have other grant funding. Two of the Institute’s funded projects have been leveraged with investments through the State of Colorado and the University of Colorado TTO’s Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program and a third received a Proof of Concept grant from TTO directly.

Fellowship Programs

A primary activity of the Institute has been to award Coleman Institute Fellowships in three award categories: graduate fellowships, postdoctoral fellowships, and faculty fellowships. Many of these fellowships were tied to federally funded research grants and were awarded as a leveraging match to augment competitive faculty proposals. Dozens of graduate students have been supported by the Institute at all campuses of the University of Colorado. Jeffery Hoehl served as the Institute’s Coleman Fellow, and was a graduate student in the Computer Science department at the University of Colorado Boulder. Jeffery served as an intern on the Gmail team and worked in collaboration with the accessibility team at Google. Upon completion of his PhD, he is now a part of the Google team.

Public Policy Advocacy and Outreach

The Coleman Institute has influenced program development and funding for research in cognitive technologies not just at CU but nationally. Professor of Psychiatry and Institute Executive Director David Braddock, successfully advocated for the federal government to authorize a new funding source dedicated to cognitive technologies research and development. This initiative was authorized in 2003 through the federal government’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). The subsequent national, peer-reviewed competition led to CU being competitively awarded the nation’s first Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for the Advancement of Cognitive Technologies in 2004. The Center was competitively refunded at the CU School of Medicine through 2014. The total funding for the Center is over $10 million, with the Institute’s contribution at over $1.6 million.

The Institute has also been an effective agent to bring constituencies together nationally and internationally to advance awareness, advocacy and resources related to cognitive disability and technology. Executive Director David Braddock speaks frequently on issues involving quality of life for people with cognitive disabilities and on the role of technology in this emerging field. He has given over 450 invited public lectures and keynote addresses in university and conference settings. Audiences have included state legislatures, international, national, state and community organizations, and disability and technology constituencies in virtually every state and the District of Columbia, and in seven foreign countries: Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Sweden and United Arab Emirates. The Institute’s public policy activities have also included consultation with the federal government’s President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, congressional and agency staff, and the Colorado Legislature. The annual Coleman Institute conferences on cognitive disability and technology include highly regarded roundtables and workshops on cognitive accessibility on the web which has included topics like the implications of cloud computing and which draws attorneys, policy makers and service providers. The Institute’s former Scientist In Residence, Professor Clayton Lewis, of the University of Colorado Boulder Computer Science Department, was a key advocate on national and international committees engaged in technical, usability and regulatory issues related to accessibility issues for people with cognitive disabilities. He is now serving as a consultant to the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in an advisory capacity.

The Institute’s web site features the nation’s first searchable electronic database on published cognitive technology research literature pertinent to persons with cognitive disabilities. The database contains entries for over 1,000 articles that have been published in more than 70 journals. It is designed for use by researchers, engineers, students, business development specialists, and parents of persons with cognitive disabilities.

The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities and Related Projects

In addition to his Coleman Institute activities, Professor Braddock has secured competitive federal grants for over $7.6 million through his academic appointment in CU’s Department of Psychiatry. In FY 12-13 alone, he was successful in securing $2.1 million. One of these grants, for $1.5 million over five years, is the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Project. It has been continuously funded by the US Government’s Administration on Developmental Disabilities for more than 30 years. A second grant of $600,000 was received from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), U.S. Department of Education, and built on the State of the States Project and extended its focus to mental health and physical disability. The National Study of Public Spending for Disability in the United States was funded at $600,000 over three years. It expanded the state by state study of spending and services for people with developmental disabilities to psychiatric and physical disabilities. Recent publications from the projects are listed below.

Staff includes:

  • Emily Shea Tanis, PhD; Senior Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry, Anschutz Medical Campus and Associate Director for Research, Coleman Institute
  • Richard Hemp, Senior Professional Research Assistant
  • Laura Haffer, Senior Professional Research Assistant
  • Joy Wu, Professional Research Assistant

University of Illinois at Chicago:

  • Mary Kay Rizzolo, Associate Director, Institute on Disability and Human Development; and Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Disability and Human Development
  • Glenn Fujiura, Professor, Department of Disability and Human Development

Selected Recent Publications

Braddock, E., Hemp, R., Rizzolo, M.C., Tanis, E.S., Haffer, L., & Wu, J. (2015). The State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Emerging from the Great Recession. Washington, DC: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Braddock, D., Hemp, R., Rizzolo, M.C., Tanis, E.S., Haffer, L., & Wu, J. (2014). The State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: The Great Recession and Its Aftermath. Washington, DC: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Rizzolo, M.C., Friedman, C., Lulinski Norris, A., & Braddock, D. (2013). Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers: A Nationwide Study of the States. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 51.

Braddock, D. (2012). Foreword. In Marcia J. Scherer, “Assistive technologies and other supports for people with brain impairment,” pp. ix-x. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Braddock, D. & Parish, S. (2011) Sakatligin Kurumsal Tarihi (History of Disability). In D. Bezmez, S. Yardimci, and Y. Senturk (Eds.) Sakatlik Calismalari, Sosyal Bilimlerden Bakmak, pp. 101-186. Istanbul, Turkey: Koc Universitesi Yayinlari. Translated from the English version (2001) into Turkish. This is the first book on “disability studies” published in Turkey.

Braddock, D., Hemp, R., Rizzolo, M.C., Haffer, L., & Tanis, S. (2011). The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities: 2011. Boulder, Colorado. Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, Department of Psychiatry and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Washington, DC, 310 pages. (Revised a second time in 2012 with updated statistics on the U.S. general economy.)

Braddock, D., Hemp, R., Rizzolo, M.C., Haffer, L., Tanis, S., & Wu, J. (2011). The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities: 2011. Boulder, Colorado. Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and Department of Psychiatry. Distributed in collaboration with the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Washington, DC, 310 pages.

Braddock, D. (2010). Public spending for services to persons with disabilities in the United States. In Proceedings of a Conference on the Disability Market at the Federal Reserve Bank, Washington, DC. Boston: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Braddock, D. (2010). Honoring Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s Legacy in Intellectual Disability, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Braddock, D., Hemp, R., & Rizzolo, M.C. (2008). The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities: 2008. Washington, DC: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (309 pages), Revised Edition.

Rizzolo, M.C. & Braddock, D. (2008). People with Cognitive Disabilities. In S. Helal, M. Mokhtari, and B. Abdulrazak (Eds), The engineering handbook of smart technology for aging, disability, and independence, pp. 203-216. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Braddock, D. (2007). Washington rises: Public financial support for intellectual disability in the United States, 1955-2004. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 169-177.

Last Updated: June 3, 2015