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We are living in an era of advanced technology. Over the years, technology has revolutionized our world and has created amazing tools and resources by putting useful information at our fingertips. This chapter highlights the use of advanced technology and its benefits to the differently-abled. Technology has been registering unbelievable growth in recent decades. It has enabled the disabled to perform their day-to-day activities just like a normal person.
Alisha is a disabled girl who suffers from cerebral palsy. She used to have trouble typing but now she uses an advanced technology called Dragon Dictate, a software that helps to transfer her speech into words on the screen. Alisha feels that technology has made her more independent. David was born with Athetoid cerebral palsy.
Modem technologies such as the Liberator Communication Device, ACTIV Controller, AAC, and ECO2 have enabled him not only to communicate freely but also to control his environment. According to David as well, technology is important since it enables him to communicate, and to be independent.
- Alisha: A disabled girl who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and a student of Maths GCSE
- David: A 21 years old boy who was born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
- Kim: The Assistive Technologist at Alisha’s school.
Use of Technologies
A refrigerator can refill kinds of stuff like milk or ink cartridges directly linking to the e-commerce site and also self-order replacements. Managing entertainment and home appliances by voice commands or swapping the finger is a reality like informing smart TV your desire to view your social feed when you are bored or when caught in traffic or directing your kettle to prepare tea for you to sip it hot the moment you reach home. All water and energy management can be automated.
Technology makes a normal person’s life easier but it is also a boon to citizens with special needs or disabled. According to the 2011 Census, 2.21 percent of India’s population is disabled. Unlike the developed world, the disabled are deprived of attitudinal barriers that they face.
Technology, a a for the disabled
The writer shows how technology has transformed Alisha’s life who has cerebral palsy. Typing used to be impossible until she started using a technology called Dragon Dictate that helps her to speak for words on the screen for printing. She had a teacher, now deceased wanted her to do Maths GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). It sounded silly to her because she needed help to type, but now it’s possible. Kim who is an Assistive Technologist introduced Dragon Dictate to her.
Kim trained Alisha to understand her voice and now she is an independent student doing Maths GCSE. Kim gives her the motivation needed to achieve the impossible. One can also control a computer screen with Eye Gaze, Kim trains 42 students and helps them use technology in different ways which have opened up the world to many.
Technology empowers people with disabilities
David was born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, Technology enabled him to be free and independent. For verbal communication, David used a Liberator Communication Device which he controls with eye movements to communicate verbally, it had a Bluetooth adaptor as well which took a couple of weeks for him to learn using it. Communicating with people was very difficult before but now he has an ACTIV controller also in the headrest of his chair in his bedroom to control his TV, Blu-Ray, and music players.
David attends a specialist school and college and has been using high-tech communication since he was eight years old. He has been interested in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and is also a keen sportsman playing football, boccia, hockey, and baseball. He is a sports leader and uses his EC02 with ECO points linked to an interactive whiteboard to teach PE lessons.
David has 144 icons on the screen and uses them with Eye Gaze. David accesses the curriculum, studies for his GCSE, orders food, and has become a confident and competent communicator. David is an inspiration for those who wish to communicate. He controls his Play Station, plays MP3, drives his electric wheelchair, and uses the ECO point Eye Gaze to communicate, accesses the computer to check on the progress of the Chelsea football team. David will travel to Brazil to work with the Olympic opening ceremony team as part of the Remix Drama Group.
- Lechal Shoes by Krispian Lawrence: These shoes have GPS and Bluetooth that help the disabled to navigate streets based on the instructions from map software on smartphones. This app also records routes and counts steps.
- Blee Watch by Industrial Designers Nupura Kirloskar and Jahanvi Joshi of Mumbai: This device is for those who have a loss of hearing and converts soundwaves into vibrations and color codes to alert users to emergency sounds, and ringing doorbells. It also helps them feel the rhythm of the music.
- IGEST by Anil Prabhakar who is an IIT-M professor and co-founder of enability technologies: This wearable device tracks the gestures of people who cannot speak and speaks for them.
Technology has made life easier for all but especially the disabled. Kim has shown a new world for the differently-abled. World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is the best example of how Assistive Technology can transform lives. Newer technology allows differently-abled learners to learn collectively. This is indeed the new era of learning; thus, technology can help people like Alisha and David to make friends, control their environment, study, and find jobs.