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Introduction to IHD at NAU

Northern Arizona University’s Institute for Human Development (IHD) is one of NAU’s oldest Institutes and focuses its research, teaching, training/technical assistance initiatives, community service and dissemination efforts on issues that affect persons with disabilities across the age span. As a federally-designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, emphasis is placed on advancing positive attitudes, universal access and full inclusion in all aspects of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Leading the IHD team of more than 45 staff members is IHD Executive Director Kelly Roberts Ph.D., and Jill Pleasant, MA, OTR/L Associate Director.

Kelly Roberts, Ph.D., Executive Director

Dr. Roberts is a researcher, tenured professor and has many years’ experience with assistive technology (AT). Dr. Roberts has over 24 years of experience working in higher education as a researcher, evaluator, instructor, curricula developer, and administrator. In addition, she has over 25 years of experience working in the AT field having started this aspect of her career in the late 1980s in a k-12 school district (using Apple II GSs) and becoming a RESNA Certified AT Practitioner in the late 1990s. In addition, her dissertation was on the use of Voice Recognition software and she has conducted extensive research on the use of text-to-speech software. She has also assisted in the development of curricula-based applications associated with Teen Health Education.

Jill Pleasant, MA, OTR/L Associate Director

Ms. Pleasant has an extensive occupational therapy background specializing in assistive technology. Ms. Pleasant has presented on a range of AT topics at local, regional and national conferences in the US and in Asia and the Pacific Basin. She is the co-author of a chapter in The Engineering Handbook of Smart Technology for Aging, Disability and Independence (2008) published by Wiley. Ms. Pleasant is an appointed member of the Arizona State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) and a Commissioner for the Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues.


IHD is also the home to the Phoenix-based Arizona Technology Access Program (AzTAP), Arizona’s designated Assistive Technology Act Program. Physically located in Phoenix, but providing statewide AT services, the fully accessible AzTAP office consists of more than 5,500 square feet of space and has nine staff members who bring AT expertise, credentials and perspectives across different health and human services disciplines. AzTAP delivers robust AT activities consistent with the core services required under the AT Act: Information and Assistance, Device Demonstrations, Short term Device loans, Equipment Reuse Initiatives, State Funding Activities, and Training and Technical Assistance. AzTAP maintains and continually updates its inventory of more than 7,500 AT devices and products. AzTAP’s staff members are also contributing AT content area expertise to this project centering on matching product knowledge to consumer needs.


IHD is funded primarily through grants and contracts awarded by various governmental agencies and private foundations. Current or past funders include (but are not limited to) the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health, the Arizona Department of Education, the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities, the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, the Navajo Nation, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and the Arizona Community Foundation.

Please visit IHD’s website to learn more about everything that IHD does: http://www.nau.edu/ihd

AT@Home Original Project Description