Innovative Technology for Those Living with Physical Disabilities
As an organization dedicated to working with those living with disabilities and bringing humans and animals together, we can look at our history with great pride. Now, Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers (HH) is in an exciting transition phase, undertaking initiatives that will allow us to continue to serve the disability community by providing resources through the utilization of robotics, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
HH is looking to take the 40+ years of experience, intellectual property, and insights it has gained in service to the disability community and offer it in collaboration with robotic, AR, VR, and AI research organizations, firms, and service providers.
The goal of our new Innovative Technology Initiative is to offer new technologies, now coming on the market at a rapid pace, that help empower individuals with physical disabilities to live more independent and engaged lives. As when we trained service monkeys from the 1980s through the early 2000s, our goal today is to provide tools that allow individuals with physical disabilities to have opportunities to pursue meaningful careers, advanced educational degrees, and fulfilling personal lives.
Currently, HH is looking at three areas to implement immediately, including:
- Assistive Technology Program
- Robotics Pilot Projects leading to a permanent Robotics Program
- Virtual Reality (VR) Pilot Projects leading to a permanent Virtual Reality Program
How Does It All Work?
Technology and how individuals use it or what technology they need may vary. Many adults may need assistive or adaptive devices to help them daily, and provide the independence necessary to get to work or school.
Assistive Technology Program
The HH Innovative Technology Initiative’s Assistive Technology Program will offer devices that can be purchased online, are easy to use, and make an individual’s day-to-day life easier. It might be a technology that is not covered by insurance and an individual or family cannot afford on their own. (i.e., Amazon’s Fire TV Cube or Echo).
Assistive Technology Support for You!
Often an assistive or adaptive device can mean the difference between isolation and socialization or the ability to get around from home to work more easily. This program supports people living with physical disabilities with assistive technology devices that improve their quality of life, whether it be a computer that gives them a way to connect with others and reduce their isolation or an automated door opener that enables them to live more independently. The device will not only provide independence for the person living with the physical disability but may also provide the caregiver with some free time to go about their own daily activities.
We will provide up to $2,000 in financial support for needed devices that are not covered by any type of insurance. Devices can be anything that makes one’s home safer, helps with socialization, or assists with school or work technology. This is a financial-needs based program.
We have received an initial grant from the Liberty Mutual Foundation for this program, and hope that you will join us in supporting the program so we can support those who are in need of these assistive devices.
You can help! Make a donation to support this program.
Robotics and Virtual Reality Pilot Projects
We are in the discovery phase of learning how both robotics and virtual reality will best benefit those living with mobility disability challenges. With input from our newly established Robotics and Virtual Reality Committees made up of experts in these two fields as well as those living with physical challenges, we are first designing pilot projects to test the specific technologies. Our goal is to turn what we discover in the pilot projects into complete programs. This activity will ascertain how robotics and VR technologies provide independence to someone with limited or no physical mobility.
Pilot Projects in Progress
Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers is currently engaging in pilot projects to determine how the innovative technology in development will:
- Improve quality of life and assist in daily living needs for those living with physical disabilities; and
- Provide peace of mind for the primary caregiver.
Helping Hands is delighted that we are collaborating with:
- Northeastern University’s Institute of Experiential Robotics to ascertain if a robotics arm will assist a person living with multiple sclerosis in his daily living needs as well as give his primary caregiver peace of mind.
We are in the process of brainstorming two virtual reality projects including:
- The Billy Project – looking at how to make virtual reality gaming more accessible for those living with physical mobility impairments. This is a collaboration between a special effects company, Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers, a person living with a spinal cord injury, and a gaming company.
- Working with Toronto based Sense Tech Solutions to produce software that will create information and communication (ICT) platforms based on feedback from those living with disabilities throughout a two year process. Helping Hands will be instrumental in providing key knowledge through recipients real world experiences if what the ICT needs.