Jon Sanford

Associate Professor, School of Industrial Design; Director, Center for Assistive Technologies and Environmental Access (CATEA)
Director, Center for Assistive Technologies and Environmental Access (CATEA)
(404) 894-1413

Jon Sanford is an associate professor in Industrial Design and the director of the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) where he serves as the co-director of Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Workplace Accommodations, a five-year grant supported National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).  He is also a Research Architect at the Rehabilitation Research and Development Center at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Mr. Sanford is one of the few architecturally trained researchers engaged in environmental issues related to rehabilitation.  He has been well-recognized for almost 25 years for his expertise in universal design, accessible design and assistive technologies across a range of environments from housing to residential care to workplaces to public buildings and spaces.  His research spans the micro environment, such as design of toilet and bathing facilities to facilitate independence among older adults, and the effectiveness of home modifications and workplace accommodations, to the macro environment, such as wheelchair seating is stadiums and theaters and community barriers to wheeled mobility. He has developed several assessment protocols for home modifications, including remote assessments using televideo technology and CASPAR, the Comprehensive Assessment and Solutions Process for Aging Residents. He is currently working on several projects to evaluate the efficacy of interactive teleconferencing to provide remote therapeutic services both to employees with disabilities in the workplace and older adults at home, including a multi-site, randomized controlled trial funded by the VA Rehab R&D Service.  He has contributed over 100 articles and chapters to the professional literature and has over 150 professional presentations. 

Educational Background
1974 - B.S. cum laude (Psychology) Duke University
1980 - B.S. with High Honors (Architecture), Georgia Tech
1983 - Master of Architecture (with High Honors), Georgia Tech


  • Universal Design
  • Environment and behavior
  • Aging and Disability

Research ambitions
To develop an evidence-base for universal design grounded in an understanding of human needs and abilities.  In terms of my own research agenda I intend to focus on an understanding of individuals with limited abilities, including older adults and people with disabilities, and ways in which home, work and community environments can be designed to facilitate activity and participation in social roles.   

Research Groups/Labs

  • Enabling Environments Lab (ee lab)
  • Design and Technology for Healthy Aging (DATHA)
  • AwareHome Research Initiative (AHRI)

Recent Publications

  • Sanford, J.A.  (2010). The Physical Environment and Home Health Care. In  S. Olson, (Rapporteur). The Role of Human Factors in Home Health Care Workshop Summary (pp.201-245). National Research Council of the National Academies, Washington, D.C.:  The National Academy Press.
  • Sanford, J. A. (2010). Assessing Universal Design in the Physical Environment. In T. Oakland and E. Mpofu (Eds.). Rehabilitation and Health Assessment, 255-278, New York, NY: Springer.  
  • Sanford, J. & Bruce, C. (2010). Measuring the Physical Environment.  In T. Oakland and E. Mpofu (Eds.). Rehabilitation and Health Assessment, 207-228, New York, NY: Springer.
  • Bruce, C. & Sanford, J.A. (2009). Assessment for Workplace Accommodation. In T. Oakland and E. Mpofu (Eds.). Assessment in Rehabilitation and Health, 205-221, Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall.  
  • Sabata, D., Williams, M.D., Milchus, K., Baker, P.M.A., Sanford, J.A. (2008).  A retrospective analysis of recommendations for workplace accommodations for persons with mobility and sensory limitations. Assistive Technology, 20(1): 28-36.
  • Sanford, J.A., Hoenig, H. (2008).  A comparison of in-home vs. telerehabilitation.  In Mihailidis, A., Boger, J. Kautz,  H., Normie, L. (eds). Technology and Aging. IOS Press: Netherlands.
  • Zolna, J., Sabata, D., Sanford, J. (2008). Accommodations for Mobility in the Workplace: A Comparison of Workers with and without Wheeled Mobility Devices. In W.C. Mann (ed), Aging Disability and Independence.  College of Public Health and Health Professions: Gainesville, FL.
  • Connell, B.R., Sanford, J.A., Lewis, D. (2007). Therapeutic effects of an outdoor activity program on nursing home residents with dementia. Journal of Housing for the Elderly, 21 (1/2, 3/4):195-210.
  • Zolna, J.S., Sanford, J.A., Sabata, D., Williams, Goldwaithe, J. (2007). Review of accommodation strategies in the workplace for persons with mobility and dexterity impairments: Application to criteria for universal design. Technology and Disability, 19 (4).189-198.
  • Sanford, J.A., Griffiths, P.M., Richardson, P., Hargraves, K., Butterfield, T., Hoenig, H. (2007). A comparison of televideo and traditional in-home rehabilitation in mobility impaired older adults.  Journal of Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics.  25(3): 1-18.  
  • Connell, B.R., Sanford, J.A., Lewis, D. (2007).Therapeutic effects of an outdoor activity program on nursing home residents with dementia. In Rodiek, S. and Schwarz, B. (eds.). Outdoor Environments for People with Dementia. Haworth Press: USA.
  • Sabata, D. Bruce, C. & Sanford, J. (2006). Preparing home health clients for work opportunities with workplace accommodation. Home Health Care Management and Practice, 19(1). December
  • Bruce, C. & Sanford, J.A. (2006).  Development of an evidence-based conceptual framework for workplace assessment.  Work, 26(4): 381-390.
  • Sanford, J.A. & Milchus, K., Editors.  (2006).  Evidence based practice in workplace accommodations.  Work, 26(4): 329-332.
  • Sanford, J.A., Griffiths, P.M., Richardson, P., Hargraves, K., Butterfield, T., Hoenig, H. (2006). The Effects of in-home rehabilitation on task self efficacy in mobility impaired adults: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of American Geriatrics Society, 54:1641-1648. November.  
  • Hoenig, H., Sanford, J.A., Butterfield, T., Richardson, P., Hargraves, K., & Griffiths, P.M., et. al (2006). Development of a tele-technology protocol for in-home rehabilitation. Journal of Rehabilitation R&D 43(2). 287-298.

Recent Funded Projects

  • Principal Investigator (GA Tech, subcontract from Atlanta Regional Commission), Lifelong Community in South Cobb County, Administration on Aging, 2010 -2012.
  • Principal Investigator, Identification of Unmet Needs for Environmental Supports in Housing and Communities of Georgia’s Seniors, Georgia Council on Aging, 2009-2010.
  • Principal Investigator (GA Tech, subcontract), Wheelchair with Drop-Down Armrest for Sliding Transfers, NIA Phase I SBIR, 2008-2009.
  • Principal Investigator, Communication Technologies to Enhance Participation in the Tele-Workplace, Supplement to Grant # H133E070026, NIDRR, 2008-2009.
  • Co-Director, Rehabilitation Research Engineering Center on Workplace Accommodations, Grant # H133E070026, NIDRR, (Projects: PI: Development of Remote Assessment Protocol; Co-PI: Successful Aging in the Workplace; Effects of Accommodation on Participation in the Workplace; PI: Student Awards Program for Universal Design in Workplace Accommodation) 2008-2012
  • Co-Principal Investigator, Assessment Protocol to Identify Environmental Barriers to Communication in Long Term Care Facilities, NIA Phase 2 SBIR; 2009-2011.
  • Principal Investigator, Atlanta Site.  Home-Based Tele-Health Stroke Care:  A Randomized Trial for Veterans, VA RR&D Service, 2007-2010

Recent Courses

  • ID 4943/8900; Arch 8832/4832 Universal Design in the Built Environment, Fall 09, 10
  • ID 4903/8900; Arch 4803/8803 Design for Healthy Aging, Spring, 09, 10

Master’s Students Supervised

  • Camillo Vargas (MID), Spring 2008, Universal Checkout Stand”
  • Xiaoyi Ye (MID), Spring 2008, “CNC Machine Design for Wheelchair Users”
  • Corey Schulman (MID), Spring 2009, “Barriers and Facilitators in the Use of Medicine Containers by Older Adults With Hand Impairments”
  • Josh Tuminella (MID), Spring 2009 “Naturally-Occurring Object Attachment through Wear”
  • Ted Ulrich (MID), Spring 2009, “Development of a Tangible Display and Metric for Qualitative Human to Human Electronic Communication”

Current PhD Students

  • Seunghyun Lee

Current Master’s Students

  • Natasha Powell (MID), expected Summer 2010, “Supporting the Design Process of Distributed and Co-located Multidisciplinary Design Teams by Facilitating Misunderstanding Resolution and through TAG and Thumbnail-based organization of design Documents”
  • Joi Ricks (M.Arch), expected Summer 2010, “Sustaining the Lifelong Community through Universal Design”