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Proceedings of the Annual RESNA Conference includes paper session presentations, both traditional and poster, containing papers presented by students of Electrical and Computer Engineering Students of UMass Lowell.


RESNA '95 RECREAbilityAn Open Interface Telephone for Custom Applications
RESNA '97 - Let's Tango: Partnering People and TechnologiesThe Design and Delivery of a Learning & Communication System
Habitat Assistive Living Systems Using Voice Recognition
RESNA '98 - The State of the Arts and ScienceVoice Activated Environmental Control Unit
RESNA '99 - Spotlight on TechnologyA Talking Device For Mute Adults
Voice Operated Wheelchair using digital signal processing technology
Eye Movement Control Unit
RESNA 2000 - Technology for the New MillenniumA Voice Activated Phone
Biopotential -Based Environmental Control System
RESNA 2003 - Technology and Disability: Research, Design, Practice and PolicyA Voice Activated Text Reader
Sensory System for the Blind
Emergency Alert Positioning System
Voice Activated Tape Deck Controller
Installing a Voice Activated 
Environmental control Unit for Under 500 Dollars

National Science Foundation "Engineering Senior Projects to Aid Persons with Disabilities" Year 2000 containing papers presented by students of Electrical and Computer Engineering Students of UMass Lowell.


  • Morse Code to Telephone Converter
  • Keypad Programmable Electronic Door Strike
  • Adaptation of a Radio Remote Controller
  • Voice Controlled Phone Dialer
  • Computer Controlled Speaker Phone
  • Computer Interface for Hospital Bed Control
  • Voice operated Wheelchair Using Digital Signal Processing Technology
  • Voice Activated Wheelchair Lift Switch
  • Motorized Exercise Bicycle
  • Wireless Remote Controller

Newspaper Articles

Articles published in leading newspapers about the Assistive Technology Program in University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Published on 02/28/1999, Boston Globe Northwest Weekly. 

LOWELL - A Lowell graduate student with a taste for challenges has developed a voice-operated wheelchair that he hopes will change the lives of quadriplegics. Walter McGuire and his project recently won the Student Design Competition of RESNA, the Rehabilitative Engineers' Society of North America. McGuire is a grad student in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He developed the device in conjunction with the school's Assistive technology program. " I' can't settle for anything that's been done," he said." It bores me." The Lowell resident developed a working prototype of a wheelchair that uses commercially available Digital Signal Processing technology. The system allows wheel-chair bound people to speak commands that will move their chairs forward, backward, left, right, soft left and soft right. 

Published on 07/23/2000. Boston Globe Northwest Weekly.

LOWELL - Until some University of Massachusetts engineering students came along three years ago, Sam Afroh, a quadriplegic, had more than his share of frustration. "I was a prisoner in my own house," said Afroh, 50, a former Wang Labs systems analyst severely injured in a 1991 auto accident. "If my son was at school, I'd be sitting in the dark until he came back. Once I had to call 911 to have the police turn my air conditioning on," he said by phone from his Lowell apartment. UMass students at the campus have invented a number of devices to aid the handicapped as a part of their Assistive technology classes.

Published on 05/11/1998. The Sun, Lowell, Massachusetts.

LOWELL - UMass Lowell engineering student Walter McGuire, and Don Connolly, a quadriplegic who acts as a consultant, hope to have a voice activated wheelchair  available for general use within a few years. The voice operated wheelchair is operated by the sound of the programmed user's voice, which is fed by a microphone through a Digital Signal Processing (DSP) unit to a converter circuit. "This is Walter's project ," Clark says. "He's been very focused on it.  And we're planning  to use DSP technology in other projects." Clark has students working to create a voice-activated hospital bed and voice-activated pinball game for disabled children.

LENDING A HELPING HAND WITH HIGH TECH: UMass Lowell students apply their know-how to help a quadriplegic lead a more independent life. 
Published on 06/01/1997. The Sun, Lowell, Massachusetts.

LOWELL - Students from the University of Massachusetts - Lowell have installed a voice - activated computer system in paraplegic Sam Afroh's Lowell apartment that will help Afroh lead a more independent life. Life can change dramatically in just one second, or with just one action. Sam Afroh of Lowell has learned that lesson twice. The first time was on June 9, 1991, when Afroh severely injured his spine in a car accident. After the crash, the once-active systems analyst for Wang Laboratories- who used to travel the globe and enjoyed playing tournament tennis around the state - was a quadriplegic and was completely dependent on others. The second time was this past March 25, when electrical engineering students from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell installed a voice - activated computer system in Afroh's Lowell apartment. The Computer controls lights, heating, air conditioning, a ceiling fan and the television set. The members of UMass Lowell's Assistive technology program learned of the disabled man's plight , and a team of three students - Doug Thompson, Gregg Browinski , and Sean O' Connell - set to work on a senior project that would change Afroh's life.

Published on 01/30/1993. Boston Globe Metro Region.

LOWELL - Jozef Parr is a friendly 22-year-old year resident who is blind, with Down's Syndrome , and has a passion for classical music. Previously, his handicaps interfered with his enjoyment of music. But no more. He is anxiously awaiting the promised delivery next week of a specially built stereo cassette player that will allow him to play his favorite Beethoven and Bach symphonies without worrying about the touching the wrong dial or pushing the wrong button. Ed Barnes , a participant in an innovative program at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell in which electrical engineering students build electronic devices for handicapped and disabled people in exchange for their senior lab course credit, upgraded the stereo with an adaptive remote control unit with customized switches that will allow Parr to turn the system on and off, set volume levels, and select tapes to play. 

I'm glad about the pinball machine. I've been playing it all the time, almost every day.

-CHRISTOPHER WEBB,26,New England Sinai resident.

Published on 1994, Boston Globe Northwest Weekly

STOUGHTON - As a youngster, Christopher Webb, 26, had the supple wrists and push-button fingers of a fledgling pinball wizard. After being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 5,however , Webb's love of pinball fell victim to the slow spread of the disease. Thanks to the adaptation by two University of Massachusetts at Lowell students, he was once again playing the mean pinball game. "These projects are important",  said Alan Rux, coordinator of laboratories at UMass Lowell, who started the program. "And it shows a state school can return something to the people who pay taxes to support it." The pinball machine is the first adaptation done for the New England Sinai, which is home to 180 disabled adults, about 75 percent of them unable to operate a conventional pinball machine. 

I' can't tell you the number of hours they spent on this. They put in 10 times the effort in this course than any other.


Published on 03/30/1997. Sunday Telegram, Worcester , Massachusetts.

LOWELL - There is a knock on an apartment door, and a voice says, "Come in." Slowly the door opens by itself. Once inside, a vocal order can also turn the lights on and off, adjust the temperature and turn on and off, adjust the temperature and turn on the television or CD player. Star trek ? Nope. This apartment is in an old mill-turned-subsidized housing unit in Lowell. Its resident , Sam Afroh, 49, a quadriplegic since a 1991 car accident, used to have to sit at home helpless until family members and health care workers arrived. Now thanks to Sean P. O' Connell of 25 Coyne St., Clinton, and two other electrical engineering students at the University of Massachusetts - Lowell , Afroh is able to help himself. O' Connell along with the students Doug Thompson of Reading and Gregg Browinski of Lawrence, worked since last July on a voice - activated computer system for Afroh's apartment. It is now complete and demonstrated for the first time last week.

Son's class project helps mom with MS.

Published on 01/16/2001. Health & Fitness, The Salem Evening News, Beverly, Massachusetts.

BEVERLY - Mike McCarthy didn't hit the mails this winter to shop for a Christmas gift for his mom. He made it himself. McCarthy, a senior engineering student at UMass - Lowell is designing a hands-free phone for his mother, who has multiple sclerosis. The 24-year-old Beverly native began working on the voice-controlled telephone two and a half months ago, gathering information and preparing to build the device. McCarthy only recently began the actual construction of the telephone. "I originally thought it would be much simpler," he said. McCarthy's mother, Mary who lives in Ryal Side was diagnosed with MS more than 20 years ago. The phone will allow her to connect with family and friends - giving her an added measure of independence. In addition to being a present for his mother, the voice controlled telephone is helping McCarthy get his degree. As a student of UMass-Lowell's Assistive Technology Program, he must complete his project in that field to graduate. After graduation, McCarthy is hoping to work in the wireless communications industry. But he also wants to fine-tune his voice-controlled phone concept as he learns more about the technology. "This is a fairly crude version, " McCarthy said. " When I really understand how it works, I'll probably build a total works with all voices. This one only recognizes her voice. This  is the first generation for me. I'll probably have to a few upgrades."

Published on 03/31/1996. Boston Globe Northwest Weekly.

LOWELL - When he was a systems analyst for Wang laboratories , Sam Afroh used to travel and enjoyed going to the park and tossing a ball with his son Ishmael. "I never knew what a spinal cord injury was. I'd seen people in wheelchairs but i didn't know it could happen to me," said the 48 - year old man who became a quadriplegic after he injured his spine in a car accident in 1991. "Suddenly, you can't feel your legs and you don't know where your arms are ," said Afroh. Today, Afroh's world is his small apartment in Lowell where he gets around slowly in a motorized wheelchair, Ishmael, now 12 balances his checkbook. Afroh relied on his son to turn on lights and other things until UMass - Lowell engineering students installed voice-activation equipment in Afroh's Lowell apartment.