Imagine Lab in collaboration with CATEA is developing an online Virtual Home Modifications Education Assistant (VHMEA) for educators and students in building construction, design, occupational therapy and rehabilitation disciplines; professionals in housing fields; users of the built environment; and for consumers with disabilities.

The VHMEA will feature an online, virtual home that will demonstrate the need for home modifications for people with disabilities, allowing users to encounter problems, solve them, and examine the results of modifications and universal design (UD) efforts. The VHMEA will train users on how modifications and UD can reduce disability and issues of aging by ameliorating environmental barriers.

Project aims are to: 1) demonstrate the impact of barriers and facilitators in the built environment; 2) develop a dynamic teaching tool that will allow educators and students to participate across distances, eliminating educational barriers; 3) allow students to learn home modifications and the use of assistive technologies (AT) by doing; 4) create a user experience that will increase the use of UD principles in teaching and practice; and 5) help consumers make choices on accommodations and improve self-advocacy.

The VHMEA will allow users to explore the 3-D virtual home through the use of customizable character avatars. Multiple users can interact with each other and the environment. They will be able to explore with avatars that simulate multiple disabilities and the effects of aging in the home. The home will simulate barriers and the uses of UD, targeted accommodations, and assistive technologies. It will provide interactivity with simulated features of the home.

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