6.811/2.78/HST.420 Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology (PPAT)

PPAT owes its existence to the late Professor Seth Teller, who created and taught the subject in 2011, 2012, and 2013; his legacy continues at MIT.


About PPAT

PPAT is a course at MIT in which advanced undergraduates work in small teams alongside someone who lives with a disability to co-design a piece of assistive technology. Each team regularly meets with their assigned co-designer to work on a specific design challenge informed by their lived-experience and expertise. The teams must perform repeated user testing as they iterate through multiple prototypes. Examples of past projects include: a custom minimalistic text-messaging app for someone with low vision, a motorized joystick that allows a power-wheelchair user to get closer to tables, a mechanical gripper that has multiple attachments for lifting a variety of household objects.

In addition to iterating on the project, students learn about human disabilities, assistive technology, accessibility, humanistic co-design, rapid prototyping, and project management. Projects span multiple disciplines. The course is cross-listed in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, and Health Sciences & Technology. PPAT is taught by an interdisciplinary team in order to support the diversity of students and projects:

  • Instructors: Prof. Rob Miller (EECS), Prof. John Leonard (MechE), Dr. Julie Greenberg (HST), Dr. Kyle Keane (Q4I), Dr. Anna K. Young (LDL), Nik Albarran (LDL)
  • TAs: Yasmin Siahpoosh (EECS MEng)
  • LAs: Pramoda Karnati (EECS Senior), Weishan Liao (MechE Senior)

To get information about PPAT, you can:

PPAT in the News

Students from PPAT complete projects of human interest and get media coverage. If you would like to cover our class in an article or video, please email ppat@mit.edu.

Collaborators (past and present)

PPAT would not be possible without active engagement from local community members with disabilities and related local organizations. Here are some of the organizations we have worked with over the years. Each year we seek project proposals from individuals living with disabilities and we appreciate organizations that can support individuals in preparing those proposals. Email us at ppat@mit.edu if you would like to discuss opportunities to work together.