The technical viability of person-centered design approaches must be matched equivalently by ethical, social, economic, and policy viability. APaCT exposes trainees to the integration of research in the sciences and engineering with corresponding research in the social sciences on issues related to science and public policy. This will facilitate the dissemination and uptake of person-centered technologies as well as their success. Representative projects are briefly described below.
Technological ‘forms of life’: ethical, legal, and social dimensions
This research will identify and analyze the ethical, legal, and social dimensions of person-centered technologies and practices, and develop appropriate guidelines and methods for dealing with technological designs and implementation. Further, fields such as bioethics and neuroethics have explored how contemporary research in biotechnology, genetics, and neuroscience are transforming life, and the social, ethical, and political questions that these transformations raise. Relatively little of this literature has directly confronted disability even though individuals with disabilities are deeply involved at the cutting edge of many fields of medico-technological innovation.
Putting ability to work: accommodations and employment
According to the 2008 American Community Survey, the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities between the ages of 18 is nearly 70%, making this the largest underemployed demographic. Success depends on motivation, independence, self-determination, self-advocacy, self-examination, academic preparation, technology solutions, and social skills. Technological adaptations hold great potential for enhancing the quality of life and productivity of people with disabilities, but poverty is a significant barrier to accessing such technology. The financial incentives available to employers, and the cost issues associated with adaptations and accommodations are key areas of study.