Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center



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 Reha\


bilitation 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.

Selected Projects

Access to Matlab: SKTools

Aging and Visual Impairment: The SKI Study

Auditory Localization Research

Compendium of Technology for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons

Computer Vision Applications for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons

Computerized Music Accessibility

Development of New Vision Function Tests

Devices Supportive of Research

Educational Devices for Blind and Deaf-Blind Children

Five Year Summary Reports

High-Tech Educational Toys for Blind Children

Innovative Applications of MS Office Accessibility Features

Low Vision and Eccentric Viewing Research

Pediatric Low Vision Research

RERC Highlights (Powerpoint Presentation)

State-of-Science Conference

Tactile Map Automated Production (TMAP)

Talking Signs

Technical Files

The Fax Project

Vision Performance and Accident Rate in Older Drivers

Web and Information Access

The Wayfinding Project

S-K RERC Scientists and Staff

John Brabyn, Ph.D., Director

Arthur Jampolsky, M.D., Co-director

Deborah Gilden, Ph.D., Associate Director

Albert Alden

August Colenbrander, M.D.

James Coughlan, Ph.D.

William Crandall, Ph.D

Donald Fletcher, M.D.

Anne Fung, M.D.

William Gerrey

Alex Gofen

William Good, M.D.

Gunilla Haegerstrom-Portnoy, O.D., Ph.D.

Lori Lott, Ph.D.

William Loughborough

Manfred MacKeben, Ph.D.

Josh Miele, Ph.D.

Marilyn Schneck, Ph.D.

Huiying Shen, Ph.D.

Helen Simon, Ph.D.

Lee Stewart, M.D.

Ender Tekin, Ph.D.

David Vásquez

Martin Winderl

Ruth Youngquist

Contact RERC

2318 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115

Tel: (415) 345-2110,2114
TTY (415) 345-2290
Fax: (415) 345-2196