BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Researchers in the University at Buffalo School
of Architecture and Planning will partner with colleagues at
Carnegie Mellon University on a $4.7 million, five-year effort to
advance public transportation for people with disabilities.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education's National
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) was
awarded to father and son researchers, Edward Steinfeld, Arch.D.,
an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of universal
design at UB, and his son Aaron Steinfeld, Ph.D., a systems
scientist in Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute.
The grant will fund a new Rehabilitation Engineering Research
Center on Accessible Public Transportation (RERC/APT) at UB and
Carnegie Mellon, and establish a formal partnership between the UB
Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA Center),
an internationally acknowledged center for excellence in universal
design directed by Edward Steinfeld, and the Carnegie Mellon
Robotics Institute, an internationally regarded center for
excellence in robotics.
For more information on the new RERC on Accessible Public
Transportation, go to http://www.rercapt.org.
Employing elements of computer science technology and principles
of universal design, the RERC/APT will research and develop methods
to empower consumers and service providers in the design and
evaluation of accessible transportation equipment, information
services and physical environments.
The Steinfelds are each co-directors of the RERC/APT. Aaron
Steinfeld will be the principal investigator.
Edward Steinfeld, a UB professor of architecture, and his
research team in the UB IDEA Center research and design
environments and products to make them more usable, safe and
appealing to people with a wide range of abilities. The center
provides resources and technical expertise in architecture, product
design, facilities management and the social and behavioral
Aaron Steinfeld does research and development on human-robot
interaction, ergonomics, rehabilitation, universal design and
intelligent transportation systems in the Carnegie Mellon Robotics
Institute's Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research
According to Edward Steinfeld the RERC/APT will conduct research
that is extremely timely and needed by the transportation industry
and business partners, including manufacturers and
consumer-advocacy organizations. "We will help to implement
research findings and disseminate information that directly
improves transportation services, vehicles and facilities," he
One collaborating organization is the United Spinal Association,
which focuses on improving the quality of life of Americans with
spinal cord injuries and disorders. The association will focus on
developing improved transportation regulations and standards.
Two other partners, the Niagara Frontier Transportation
Authority (NFTA) in Buffalo and Port Authority of Allegheny County
in Pittsburgh, will assist the researchers as they develop new
technologies and concepts.
A fourth partner is the California-based Gillig Corp., the
nation's largest manufacturer of heavy-duty mass transit buses.
Gillig will, at its own expense, incorporate the access and
interior design modifications developed by the RERC/APT into a new
prototype NFTA bus that will be ready for commercialization.
As part of its project, the team will create a public Web site
where riders can report on their experiences and collaborate with
transit providers on ways to improve the transportation system. The
team also will use advances in machine learning to develop software
that can assist riders in reaching their destinations.
Edward Steinfeld points out that the grant adds to UB's
portfolio of centers sponsored by the National Institute of
Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The others are the RERC on
Universal Design in the Built Environment; the UB Center for
International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange
(CIRRIE), and the UB Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project
(DRRP) on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.