Shabnam Haghzare, Ph.D.

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Shabnam Haghzare is a PhD Candidate in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto, a graduate fellow of Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, and a postgraduate affiliate of Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence. For the past two years she has served as a teaching assistant for the human-centred design course in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering design spine. Her current research focuses on exploring means of adapting assistive technology for older adults with and without dementia to extend their well-being, health, and quality of life. Shabnam has recently joined MILA – Quebec AI Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the innovative use of AI for social good, as a visiting student researcher.

Abstract: Towards enhancing older adults' quality of life using
                 accessible designs: making a case for user-centric
                 assistive technologies

World Health Organization defines disability as an outcome of interactions between health conditions (e.g., age-related declines and impairments) and environmental factors that restricts one’s execution of activities and/or participation in life situations. As such, closing the compatibility gap between the environmental factors and the abilities of individuals living with age-related declines and impairments could help minimize functional and participatory disabilities among older adults. In this presentation, two methods of closing this compatibility gap and examples are discussed: (1) To co-design assistive technologies to balance potential declines in older adults' abilities; and (2) To avoid creating disabilities when designing general-use tools/technologies used by older adults, which could in turn help avoid and delay disabilities among older adults and help maintain their quality of life.