Frances Harris, PhD

Research Scientist


Dr. Harris is a medical anthropologist. Her current work is in the areas of disability, assistive technology (AT), and outcomes research. Previously she worked as a staff researcher in the Center for Rehabilitation Technology at Helen Hayes Hospital, NY on a cost-outcomes research project. She joined the research staff at the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) in 2004 to lead a research project investigating activity and participation among wheelchair users. Currently, she is working with the Mobility RERC to examine the effects of specialized wheelchairs on health, activity and participation and on the relationship between environment and participation. She is also working on a project with the Work RERC that will assess the effects of workplace accommodations on participation.


New School for Social Research, PhD

Current Projects:

Grant: RERC for Wheeled Mobility 2003-2008
Funding: NIDRR

  • Project 1: The aims of this project are to quantify differences in participation and activity when using specialized technology compared to traditional technology and to assess health benefits as compared to traditional technology.
  • Project 2: This project is to assess the impact of environmental barriers to outdoor mobility among people who use wheeled mobility devices.

Grant: RERC on Work Accommodations (2007-Present)
Funding: NIDRR
Description: To assess the effects of workplace accommodations on the participation of employees with disabilities and to develop a work-specific participation self report instrument.

Grant: RERC for Wheeled Mobility 2008-present
Funding: NIDRR
Description: To assess the interrelationship between environmental facilitators in the home and workplace, wheeled mobility device, and community participation.


Harris F, Sprigle S. (2003) Cost analyses in assistive technology research. Assistive Technology . 15:16-27.

Harris F. Conceptual issues in the measurement of participation among wheeled mobility device users. (2007) Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. V2No3: 137-148.

Harris F., Sprigle S. (2008) Outcomes measurement of a wheelchair intervention. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology.

Sonenblum S., Sprigle, S., Harris, F., Maurer, C. (2007) Characterization of Power Wheelchair Use in the Home and Community. Arch Phys Med Rehabil V89(3), p486-491.

Professional Memberships:

  • American Anthropological Association
  • Society for Medical Anthropology
  • Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America