User-Centered Research: Consumer Advisory Network (R1)

The overall purpose of this project is to enhance consumer participation in wireless research and development by expanding and refining the research “portal” into the needs of people with disabilities for wireless technologies. This portal is the Wireless RERC’s Consumer Advisory Network (CAN), the nationwide network of approximately 1,000 individuals with all types of disabilities. CAN members are frequently called upon to provide insights and feedback on emerging issues related to use, usability, needs and wants of wireless technologies. Insights from CAN members will form the empirical basis for reports, presentations, and regulatory filings produced by the Wireless RERC, and also contribute directly to proposed RERC projects. Specific aims of this project are:

  1. Consumer Advisory Network (CAN) – Expand the Wireless RERC’s existing nationwide CAN to more fully reflect the diverse demographic characteristics (particularly racial/ethnic characteristics and youth aged 13-18) of the US population with disabilities.  Continue to serve as a resource for consumer organizations, rehabilitation researchers, policy makers, and industry by engaging CAN members in user needs research related to wireless technology.
  2. Surveys of User Needs (SUN) – Continue to refine the cornerstone SUN on general use and usability of wireless technology. Track changes in use, usability, and needs and wants of people with disabilities by re-surveying a representative national sample of previous SUN respondents early and late in the next grant cycle.
  3. Children and adolescents with disabilities – Examine how wireless technology and social media promote inclusion of youth with disabilities.
  4. Research and development efforts – Gather consumer input through testing, surveys, and focus groups on emerging issues related to accessible and assistive wireless technology, especially mobile applications (or “apps”), social media, emergency communications, and the transition from TTY to 4G wireless technologies.
  5. Hearing Aid Compatibility - The Wireless RERC has conducted regular survey research to track the cell phone experiences of hearing aid users - specifically their satisfaction with the sound quality of their cellphones and the difficulty/ease of finding a cellphone that is compatible with their hearing aids. Link to the questionnaires for the two most recent HAC surveys (2012 and 2014):

Project Team:


  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
  • Center for the Visually Impaired
  • Atlanta Area School for the Deaf
  • All About Developmental Disabilities
  • Mobile Manufacturers Forum
  • Nokia
  • AT&T
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Samsung Telecommunications America
  • Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse
  • National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research logo
  • Center for Advanced Communications Policy logo
  • Georgia Institute of Technology logo
  •  Shepherd Center Logo

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.