Our Research


Cognitive Disability

Cognitive disability is defined by Michigan Alliance For Families as limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communication, self-help, and social skills. Our research study target users are people with a cognitive disability working in the university library along with people without any disabilities.

Mixed-Ability Workplaces

Mixed ability work spaces are integrated spaces where people with and without disabilities work and collaborate everyday. Due to government regulations in some countries, these spaces are becoming more common. In Italy, for example, since 1999, any company with more than 50 employees must have 7% of the employees with cognitive or physical disabilities. In the U.S, mixed ability spaces have been increasing since the past 20 years, with more companies and programs supporting the cause, from organizations that focus on hiring more people with disabilities (Goodwill) to for profit consulting firms that enable other companies into a more neuro-diverse friendly future.

Challenges and Opportunities for Mixed-Ability Workplaces

People with cognitive disabilities experience a variety of difficulties in the workspace, from lower employment and pay to being more likely to be employed either part time or in the lower wage sector. In the U.S alone, the unemployment rate for people with Autism is 50- 75 %. In mixed ability work spaces (with both people with and without disabilities) people with disabilities encounter negative attitudes from their co-workers, and are often underestimated by being given repetitive or individualized tasks. This impacts their productivity, morale and skills negatively. To recognize the problem space, we must understand the different perspectives of this issue and how they’re reflected in everyday life, and use intuitive technologies to support the individuals facing the problem. A major motivation for us is to create valuable resources towards this cause, so mixed ability work spaces go beyond just functional, but productive and safe for all parties.

Using Embodied Schemata to Design Tangible and Embodied Technologies

Embodied cognition and, in particular, Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) provide a theoretical framework to dig into people’s cognitive processes. The core concept of embodied cognition is that our bodies play a vital role in our cognitive process: we make sense of the environment through our physical encounters with it. For example, a baby learns the “balance” schema when they are able to stand in an erect position and then apply it to abstract domains like social justice and architecture.

As we grow, the schema grows and evolves too, creating metaphors through complex networks of mental connection. Embodied schemata have also been applied to HCI to help inform the design of intuitive embodied interactions.


535 W. Michigan Street, IT 475, Indianapolis, IN