Sunday, October 17, 2010

Towson University professor named 2010 Innovator of the Year for developing captioning for radio

From Towson University:

TOWSON, Md. —- Ellyn Sheffield, Ph.D., a Towson University assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, has been recognized by The Daily Record as a 2010 Innovator of the Year, marking the second consecutive year that a TU faculty member received the award.

Sheffield was selected for her groundbreaking work with digital radio transmission technologies, which she has utilized to make radio programming available to millions of hearing-impaired Americans.

Through her system of captioning that allows users to read broadcast text on a screen integrated in the radio, deaf users are able to enjoy the radio for the first time since its invention more than 100 years ago. Even more importantly, radio captioning can also be used for important emergency alerts, disaster relief information, and local weather and traffic updates.

To support her research, Towson University partnered with NPR and Harris Corporation to create the International Center for Accessible Radio Technology. As managing director of ICART, Sheffield is responsible for designing and developing the user interface and feature set that will be deployed with newly equipped, accessible radios. ICART is also working on the Braille Radio project, which will assist people who are deaf-blind.

The Daily Record will honor Sheffield and other award recipients with a ceremony on Oct. 21 at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. The award was created in 2002 to honor Maryland businesses and individuals who have had a positive effect and tremendous impact in Maryland. Winners were chosen for their “ability to see a need and fill it,” says the Daily Record.

“I am delighted to receive this award on behalf of myself, Mike Starling of NPR and a great team of people who have been working diligently to bring radio programming to individuals with hearing loss,” says Sheffield. “I cannot imagine a better use of communication technology than bringing national and local emergency alerts, disaster relief information, and community information to all citizens, regardless of their hearing status.”

Sheffield teaches Infant and Child Psychology at Towson, and remains interested in several areas of research including the development of memory in very young children; cognitive and linguistic development of prematurely born infants; and applied psycho-acoustical testing for the radio industry. In addition to teaching at Towson, she is a consultant to NPR, the National Association of Broadcasting and the Consumer Electronics Association.

For more information, see the video by NPR describing the project.