Cooperative Research to Aid Those With Disabilities

Siny Joseph, professor and graduate faculty at Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus, is collaborating with colleagues around the country to develop innovative solutions for people with disabilities in unfamiliar indoor environments.

According to K-State, Joseph is the co-principal investigator on the National Science Foundation-funded collaborative research project “Mapping for Accessibility in Built Environments,” or MABLE. Joseph is the lead on the project for K-State.

Led by Lehigh University, MABLE will use crowdsensing, AI and robotics to create a responsive map with turn-by-turn instructions through a digital app to empower blind or partially sighted people and people with mobility impairments by helping them navigate indoor environments successfully.

The MABLE team was one of 16 teams┬áselected for the NSF Convergence Accelerator’s Phase 1 for Track H: Enhancing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Following a formal pitch and proposal evaluation, the NSF then selected MABLE and five other projects to move forward in Phase 2, with each team being awarded up to $5 million of funding for their project.

The team includes researchers and partners from Lehigh University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Kansas State University, Wichita State University, Florida Atlantic University, the American Foundation for the Blind, Envision, Smithsonian Museums, GoodShepherd Rehabilitation, Dell, Intel, IT Creative Labs, Innovators Box, Lotus Labs, GoodMaps, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

MABLE will continue to apply NSF Convergence Accelerator fundamentals to develop solution prototypes and build a sustainability model to continue impact beyond NSF support. By the end of the 36-month Phase 2 effort, teams are expected to provide high-impact solutions that address societal needs at scale.

Joseph has been a faculty member with K-State Salina since 2012 and is also a senior research fellow at Lehigh University, where she will continue to conduct research for MABLE.