Photo of Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken who is director of REKNEW Projects. WELCOME FROM OUR DIRECTOR

The REKNEW research group addresses the complex communication needs of adults with acquired disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases. We work on many different REKNEW projects, targeting different adult groups and communication supports. Our approach is based on a philosophy of Participatory Action Research: we believe that individuals with complex communication needs should be part of our research endeavors, from the initial questions posed in a study to the dissemination of research results.

We invite you to explore our website and examine our different clinical research projects. We would be happy to discuss our work with you, whether you are interested in participating in a study, supporting us, learning about our recent publications or knowledge translation activities, or just finding out more about communication supports for adults.
~Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken


To learn more about our funders, who we work with, our technologies and our upcoming events, please click the blue links to below.

Who Funds Our Work

National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research logoAdministration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities logo

 National Institutes of Health logo

Who We Work With

REKNEW Projects are conducted in collaboration with various community partners as well as the following organizations:

REKNEW projects have reached out to several populations, including adults with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), Locked-In Syndrome (LIS) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). We have also looked at the outcomes of training caregivers in Alzheimer’s Care Units to use communication systems with their residents.


Our Technologies

Brain-computer interface logoBrain-computer Interface Systems

Our research seeks to develop an efficient and effective brain computer interface (BCI) system that will serve as a communication access method for individuals with locked-in syndrome. We strive to improve the accuracy and speed of the technology, as well as user satisfaction, for a system that can be used for functional written and spoken expression.

View more information about our BCI systems and how you can get involved in our studies


blahSmart Predict App for AAC Conversation

Our research seeks to develop a unique and practical Smart Prediction AAC system that exploits the physical skills, language skills, and shared world knowledge of a nondisabled co-constructor to support the AAC user. By examining message generation from a co-construction perspective, we are reimagining the concept of AAC conversation and the turn-taking paradigms that are standard in this rehabilitation field, and may offer the field of AAC an innovative and unique way to improve communication effectiveness in complex communication dyads.

View more information on our Smart Predict system and how you can get involved in our studies

Upcoming Events

Hyatt Regency Crystal City – Arlington, Virginia, July 11-15, 2018
Hyatt Regency Crystal City – Arlington, Virginia, July 13, 2018


New Paper by Members of REKNEW Projects on Primary Progressive Aphasia Published in Aphasiology

Download the article "Mobile technology to support lexical retrieval during activity retell in primary progressive aphasia"


Background: Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies and tools developed for individuals with chronic aphasia have been found to facilitate generative language skills. There exists a need to identify effective AAC strategies and tools for individuals experiencing primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a neurodegenerative dementia, for which compensatory treatment paradigms are yet to be systematically evaluated.

Aims: To examine the treatment effects of a novel language compensation tool, CoChat, and to determine if lexical retrieval skills improve are maintained during activity retell with use of this AAC application.

Methods and procedures: Six individuals with PPA participated. The study was implemented using a single-subject alternating treatments experimental design to compare lexical retrieval during activity retell in three conditions: Absence of technology support, presence of photos only, and presence of CoChat app, with photo and labels. The number of target words produced by the participant during activity retell with a conversation partner was the primary dependent variable. There were two phases of this experiment: Three conditions presented in a fixed-order and three conditions presented in a counterbalanced order. For one participant, an additional implementation of CoChat was piloted at 6- and 9-month post-intervention to examine sustained effect of CoChat during activity retell.

Outcomes and results: In the fixed-order phase, results indicated a higher number of target words produced in the CoChat condition for all participants. In the counterbalanced phase, results indicated a higher number of target words in the CoChat condition for two-thirds of the participants. Maintenance probes showed same level of lexical retrieval at 6 and 9 months following intervention.

Conclusions: This single-case research design demonstrated that mobile technology compensatory strategies provide necessary support during natural conversations about personally relevant topics for people with PPA. CoChat, a newly developed mobile technology research app that uses social networks and an NLP engine to create a co-constructed external lexicon with visual scene display, significantly increased lexical retrieval during activity retell. Future research should further develop AAC strategies and tools that aid in maintenance of vocabulary access and communication participation for people with PPA over the course of disease progression.