Senior Policy Analyst
- Center for Advanced Communications Policy
Muslimah “Salimah” LaForce is a senior policy analyst for Georgia Tech’s Center for Advanced Communications Policy (CACP). She specializes in policy research, identifying and describing intended and unanticipated implementation outcomes. Her work spans a variety of topic areas, including increasing accessibility and usability of wireless technologies, improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, and building capacity for inclusive emergency response efforts. She has 14 years’ experience conducting user needs and experiences research, and utilizing study results to inform policy and practice recommendations concerning technology access, generally, and the benefit of said access to educational, employment, and social opportunities, specifically. Presently, Salimah is the Principal Investigator for the American Sign Language-Accessible Diabetes Education (ASL-ADE) project, sponsored by the Georgia Center for Diabetes Translation Research (GCDTR) at Emory University. Salimah is also the project director for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Inclusive Technologies (Wireless RERC) project, Policy and Outreach Initiatives To Accelerate Adoption of Wireless Technologies. In this capacity, she is instrumental in drafting policy recommendations in response to pertinent Federal Communications Commission rulemakings; designing research studies that evaluate the impact of federal policy; translating research into policy proposals and research briefs; and producing educational materials for consumer, practitioner, government, and industry audiences. Salimah is the senior editor of the monthly policy newsletter, Technology, and Disability Policy Highlights, and has co-authored more than 78 conference papers, presentations, journal articles, and federal regulatory agency filings.
Additionally, Salimah is a co-investigator on a Field-Initiated Project on understanding the contingent employment experiences of people with disabilities. She has served as co-project director for the IPAWS CACP Collaborative Project 2, informing citizens of features of mainstream technologies to enhance the effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs); and Project 5, providing accessible next generation alerts. Salimah was also the operations manager for the DHS S&T contract, Public Response to Alerts and Warnings: Optimizing Ability of Message Receipt by People with Disabilities.
Salimah served as the chair (elected) and women’s group representative for BCS, The Charted Institute for IT, USA Section, Southeast Regional Group. She organized events relevant to IT professionals and academics including IT’s for you too: the female dynamic in information technology education and careers, Starts-ups & Innovation: Taking Your Ideas to the Marketplace and the Geeks, Gadgets and Gizmos Showcase Competition. Other volunteer and community efforts include service as the chair of the Grants Committee at Bolton Academy Elementary School, founding member of the Soaring Owls Foundation, Inc., and tutor at the Henry Grady High School Writing Center.
Salimah earned her BA in English literature from Agnes Scott College and her MS in Clinical Psychology, applied research specialization, from the Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Capella University. Her graduate studies focused on culturally competent delivery of mental health services and the inclusion of people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and women in the workplace with an emphasis on the function of perceptions, bias, and social attitudes.
- Socially Vulnerable Populations Adoption of Technology to Address Lifestyle Changes Amid COVID-19 in the US
In: Data and Information Management [Peer Reviewed]
Date: April 2022
The COVID-19 global pandemic has changed every facet of our lives overnight and has resulted in many challenges and opportunities. Utilizing the Lens of Vulnerability we investigate how disparities in technology adoption affect activities of daily living. In this paper, we analyze the existing literature and case studies regarding how the lifestyles of socially vulnerable populations have changed during the pandemic in terms of technology adoption. Socially vulnerable populations, such as racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, older adults, children, and the socially isolated, are specifically addressed because they are groups of people who have been significantly and disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This paper emphasizes that despite seeing changes in and research on technology adoption across healthcare, employment, and education, the impact of COVID-19 in government and social services and activities of daily living is underdeveloped. The study concludes by offering practical and academic recommendations and future research directions. Lessons learned from the current pandemic and an understanding of the differential technology adoption for activities of daily living amid a disaster will help emergency managers, academics, and governments prepare for and respond to future crises.
- Pivoting an MCI Empowerment Program to Online Engagement
In: Proceedings of the ACM Human-Computer Interaction [Peer Reviewed]
Date: January 2022
In the Spring of 2020, closures and safe distancing orders swept much of the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper presents a case study of pivoting an in-person empowerment program focused on lifestyle interventions for people newly diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) to an online program. Working as rapidly as possible to sustain participant engagement, our design decisions and subsequent iterations point to initial constraints in telehealth capabilities, as well as learning on the fly as new capabilities and requirements emerged. We present the discovery of emergent practices by family members and healthcare providers to meet the new requirements for successful online engagement. For some participants, the online program led to greater opportunities for empowerment while others were hampered by the lack of in-person program support. Providers experienced a sharp learning curve and likewise missed the benefits of in-person interaction, but also discovered new benefits of online collaboration. This work lends insights and potential new avenues for understanding how lifestyle interventions can empower people with MCI and the role of technology in that process.
- Lessons Learned from Developing a MCI Virtual Empowerment Program
In: Proceedings of The International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care [Peer Reviewed]
Date: July 2021
In the Spring of 2020, COVID-19 closures and safe distancing orders required healthcare programs across the US to cease in-person treatment. This paper presents a case study of rapidly pivoting a novel, 12-month comprehensive clinical lifestyle program combining education, occupational therapy, cognitive training, and social interaction to an online application-based education program. The focus of the program is empowerment research for people newly diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and their care partners, and is conducted by the Emory Brain Health Center. Georgia Tech developed an education application (named MyCEP) for use with our MCI and care partner population combining off-the-shelf services and customized user interfaces. We used an iterative design and development process, testing our application with our end users and our treatment providers, and made updates based on our discovery of the need for new capabilities and requirements. We present the discovery of emergent practices by family members and healthcare providers to meet the new requirements for successful virtual engagement.
- Educating Minoritized Students in the United States During COVID-19: How Technology Can be Both the Problem and the Solution
In: IT Professional [Peer Reviewed]
Date: March 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has had major implications on socially vulnerable populations, especially minoritized populations. This article examines how technology-mediated learning can both operate as a tool to rectify inequities and a weapon that antagonizes existing divides for socially disadvantaged minoritized Black students. In analyzing this subsection of the population, we discuss technology-mediated learning during the pandemic and access problems that arise due to socially disadvantaged students' systematic inequalities. This article finds that technology is an essential tool that can be a solution to help rectify inequalities during crisis, coupled with models of success and future research.