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Open Access Leveling the Playing Field: Supporting Neurodiversity Via Virtual Realities

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Neurodiversity is a term that encapsulates the diverse expression of human neurology. By thinking in broad terms about neurological development, we can become focused on delivering a diverse set of design features to meet the needs of the human condition. In this work, we move toward developing virtual environments that support variations in sensory processing. If we understand that people have differences in sensory perception that result in their own unique sensory traits, many of which are clustered by diagnostic labels such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Sensory Processing Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Rett syndrome, dyslexia, and so on, then we can leverage that knowledge to create new input modalities for accessible and assistive technologies. In an effort to translate differences in sensory perception into new variations of input modalities, we focus this work on ASD. ASD has been characterized by a complex sensory signature that can impact social, cognitive, and communication skills. By providing assistance for these diverse sensory perceptual abilities, we create an opportunity to improve the interactions people have with technology and the world. In this paper, we describe, through a variety of examples, the ways to address sensory differences to support neurologically diverse individuals by leveraging advances in virtual reality.
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Keywords: ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY; AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER; NEURODIVERSITY; NEUROLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT; SENSORY INTEGRATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2018

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  • Technology and Innovation, edited and published by the National Academy of Inventors, is a forum for presenting information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Regular features of T&I include commentaries contributed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and in-depth profiles of Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors in every issue.

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