Sam Buchanan helps his brother, Zachary, get familiar with a smartphone app developed through a collaboration between Clemson’s College of Education and College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences’ School of Computing designed to provide practical, real-world assistance for people with intellectual disabilities, July 12, 2017. Zachary is a senior in the ClemsonLIFE program. (Photo by Ken Scar)
The meal planner app enables individuals with intellectual disabilities to design a personalized menu for the week while helping them inventory their pantry and identify items needed at the grocery store. According to Ryan, these tasks have been challenging for many ClemsonLIFE students to accomplish independently.
However, even members of the design team admitted this app could help them shop more efficiently. Ryan shared that on more than one occasion he has searched his pantry to make a sandwich only to find three jars of peanut butter and no jelly in sight.
The inventory feature of the app provided another challenge for the technical team. Instead of describing how much food was left using fractions, feedback from ClemsonLIFE students indicated the app would be better understood featuring a visual, color-coded bar where red signified empty and green signified a full stock.
Clemson University student Joseph Costa, a senior studying computer science, displays a grocery list in the meal planner app. (Photo by Ken Scar)
Work on the apps began in fall 2014 when Ryan approached Pargas to collaborate on the Creative Inquiry project. They felt the project would be perfect for Creative Inquiry, which is defined by undergraduate researcher involvement and multidisciplinary work.
The project launched nearly three years of collaboration between ClemsonLIFE and the School of Computing that Pargas said was defined by a healthy exchange of ideas and feedback. Everyone involved is excited to finally have the apps available in the Apple App Store for those with intellectual disabilities and other audiences that might benefit, such as young children and seniors.
“The concepts and input from ClemsonLIFE gave us something to which we could apply our technical skills,” Pargas said. “Our skills get us nowhere without ideas, and this kind of collaboration is what is the most gratifying for me.”
Zacharey Buchanan, 25, a senior in Clemson University’s ClemsonLIFE program, uses a smartphone app developed through a collaboration between Clemson’s College of Education and College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences’ School of Computing designed to provide practical, real-world assistance for people with intellectual disabilities, July 12, 2017. (Photo by Ken Scar)
The apps were made available through the Apple iTunes store on July 15 and will be announced publicly by Joe Ryan at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention in Sacramento, California from July 21 to July 23.
ClemsonLIFE (Learning is for Everyone) supports the concept that enhancing academic, social, employment and life skills will better prepare students with disabilities to lead full and productive lives. It is a comprehensive post-secondary education program designed to help young adults with intellectual disabilities gain employment and live independently. The program started in 2009 under the direction of Ryan, its founder. The program has grown from a handful of students to its current enrollment of 37 students this fall, supported by seven full-time staff, five part-time staff and seven undergraduate students who work for the program.
To easily find the apps on in the Apple iTunes Store, search “taskanalysislite” and “mealplannerlite” (no spaces). The app creators welcome any and all feedback to improve the apps in the future.
Zachary and Sam Buchanan on the Clemson University campus. (Photo by Ken Scar)