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Student researchers assess ADA-CAT


Misericordia University student researchers recently had their findings about the reliability of the Americans with Disabilities Act — Compliance Assessment Toolkit (ADA-CAT) presented at the California State University, Northridge Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego, Calif.

Developed by Denis Anson, M.S., O.T.R., director of research and development for the Assistive Technology Research Institute at Misericordia University, the ADA-CAT is a screening tool that allows people without advanced technical training to assess the architectural barriers of the built environment. The kit is composed of two parts — the website audits and measurement kit. The audits define the characteristics of an accessible and usable environment and feature a scoring system that produces a numerical score for accessibility and usability compliance. It is available online at http://ada-cat.misericordia.edu. The measurement kit is a set of 11 instruments that have been developed to allow individuals to quickly determine whether or not features of the environment meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 
Misericordia University senior occupational therapy student researchers Caitlin Cavanaugh, O.T.S., of Toms River, N.J.; Meghan Franz, O.T.S., of Pocono Lake, Pa.; Nicole Iaconetti, O.T.S., of Wharton, N.J., and Kiersten Whitaker, O.T.S., of Plainfield, N.J., used the ADA-CAT toolkit and website to evaluate elevators on a small college campus. The elevators ranged in age from more than 40 years old to less than one year.
 
“The elevators were selected because they include almost all of the features of the environment that are tested for environmental access,’’ the students wrote in their research paper. “This included door widths, door timing, light levels, physical space and surface firmness and slip-resistance.’’
 
Misericordia student researchers utilized the online “Just-In-Time’’ training available on the ADA-CAT website before beginning their work. Each student measured and recorded the accessibility of the elevators twice and stores their results in the ADA-CAT website for analysis. The results of the study show that even without in-depth training the evaluators who use the ADA-CAT were able to produce consistent results between evaluators over time and between evaluators, according to the MU students.
 
“The study provide support for the claim that it is possible to provide meaningful, standards-based assessment of complex features of the environment without requiring professional expertise and training,’’ the Misericordia students concluded. “
 
For more information about the Assistive Technology Research Institute at Misericordia University, please log on to http://atri.misericordia.edu or call (570) 674-6400. Founded and Sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 37 degree programs in three colleges in full- and part-time formats.
 
Picture: Misericordia University student researchers recently presented their findings about the reliability of the Americans with Disabilities Act — Compliance Assessment Toolkit (ADA-CAT) at the California State University, Northridge Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. Participating in the research, seated from left, are Kiersten Whitaker, Plainfield, N.J., Caitlin Cavanaugh, Toms River, N.J., and Nicole Iaconetti, Wharton, N.J.; standing, Denis Anson, M.S., O.T.R., director of research and development for the Assistive Technology Research Institute at Misericordia University; Meghan Franz, Pocono Lake, Pa., and Lalit Shah, Ed.D., professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University.