Diversity & Inclusion
DEI / Disabilities / Nonprofits

Inglis’ new $3.2M innovation center includes R&D for adaptive tech

The technology in the nonprofit's center — accessibility services like voice controls, eye tracking systems and touch-adapted keyboards — aims to help clients with disabilities gain independence in their everyday lives.

Inglis Innovation Center's grand opening. (Photo courtesy of Inglis House)
Correction: The headline and following mentions of Inglis have been updated from "Inglis House," which is just one part of the nonprofit Inglis. The date of the open house has been corrected as well. (1/2/2020, 12:25 p.m., 1:12 p.m.)

Inglis, a nonprofit serving for adults with disabilities in the region, officially opened a $3.2 million tech and innovation center for its clients and to further develop accessibility technology on Dec. 17.

The organization based on Belmont Avenue near Bala Cynwyd has opened a second campus: The 15,000-square-foot Inglis Innovation Center, which serves as a home base to all of the org’s community-based programing, President and CEO Dyann Roth said.

“Inglis hasn’t just invested in a new building, we’ve invested in lifechanging technology, community and people,” Roth said in a statement. “We knew that to achieve our visions, we had to be all in, and that meant structuring this fully integrated resource that does a deep dive into serving the diverse types and levels of needs for individuals with disabilities living in the community — all under one roof — in the community,” she said.

Inglis community programing includes Connections, a day program; Journeys, a Certified Peer Specialist mobile support team; and Inglis’ Adapted Technology Program, which helps people with disabilities find the right technology to achieve their own goals.

The organization also offers employment and care management services that connect people with disabilities to the supports they may need to live as independently as possible.

Roth told Technical.ly that the goal for the new center is to offer a selection of services that already exist for its clients, but also a community of folks who are working on new solutions. The adaptive technology center also includes a staff of about 10 people who work on research and development of new technologies, she said.

“It’s about creative, cool stuff but also about learning, ‘How do people really use these things and benefit from them in real life?'” Roth said.

Inglis’ Adaptive Technology Center. (Courtesy photo)

The technology in the nonprofit’s center — accessibility services like voice controls, eye tracking systems and touch-adapted keyboards — aims to help clients gain independence in their everyday lives. For many of the center’s clients who are quadriplegic or paraplegic, for instance, the center will work with them to achieve goals like better communicating with their families and caregivers, social networking and potential job search.

The adapted tech lab is also stocked with machines such as 3D printers that can create modified handles for utensils or special switches and button controls. Also new to the center is a sensory discovery room, bathing facilities, kitchen, private computer spaces and an art gallery featuring works from the disabled community.

Courtesy Inglis House

A 3D printer in the new innovation center. (Courtesy photo)

Each client’s goals are different, Roth said. For some, it’s figuring out how to talk to a family member or send an email. For others, it’s getting back into their social networks.

“We’re currently working with a 22-year-old who used to game, and got an injury and doesn’t have that social network anymore,” she said. “But he still wants to game, so we’re going to figure out how to get him online again whether it’s from eye gaze technology or some other way.”

Between Inglis’ various programs inside and outside the center, the staff usually works with about 100 people a day, Roth said. Soon, the center will also begin holding community education programing for those who are caregivers or family with the hope of building a community network.

Also in 2020, Inglis is opening a Life Lab training center for collaboration with caregivers and to test new technology, a cafe and community space for peer-focused interactions and its art gallery.

For folks interested in learning more about Inglis’ Innovation Center or seeing the tech IRL, the organization is hosting an open house on Jan. 15 at its facility at 2560 Belmont Ave.

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