iDirect My Supports

Principal Investigator(s):
Rachel Wright
Grant Type:
Graduate Research
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Year Awarded:
Year Completed:
Health and Sensory Issues; Miscellaneous


The project’s purpose is to investigate the effects of context-aware applications and wearable devices as prompting systems to improve the autonomy of college students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID) in employment settings. Context-aware applications recognize the user’s activity (e.g., location, date, time of day) to proactively deliver relevant information via tactile, visual, and/or auditory notifications. A smartwatch was selected to allow unobtrusive, hands-free access to information using a commercially available device. Visual supports, prompting, and self-management are well-established and recommended practices for people with ASD. This project will extend these practices by introducing self-managed supports delivered discreetly and only at the times needed to be a successful employee. A series of empirically based studies using single-case research designs will be employed. Specific research questions include (a)can the technology be used as a prompting device by students with ASD and ID independently in employment settings, (b)investigation of context-aware smartwatch applications as an effective prompting system for completion of vocational tasks, and (c) what are the differential effects of context-aware smartwatch applications compared to person-support assistances for completion of vocational tasks. Dependent variables include the number of sessions needed to independently operate the technology, the number of sessions and percentage of steps needed to complete tasks independently, and the number and types of supports required. All studies will occur in natural settings to foster the studies’ external validity in authentic workplace environments. As new technologies emerge, the potential for enhanced quality of life is increased. In-depth evaluation is necessary to determine their effectiveness for people with ASD.

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