Almost 15 percent of the population in the world comprise of people with some form disability, that’s about one billion people.
These people have poorer health, few economic opportunities, lower education achievements, and higher poverty rates according to the United Nations.
That being said, technology advancement has been helping disabled persons in various ways. For example, breakthroughs in adaptive, inclusive, and assistive technology has made most individuals with disabilities to improve the quality of life, make the most of potentials available in workplaces and communities, and improved homecare services.
So, let’s look at how technology has helped improve the lives of persons with disabilities.
People with disabilities are not finding it cost effective to move from one point to another. A challenge many people with disabilities have is having a driver’s license. Though who can get it say that it makes a difference and feels more independent today.
While depending on other people for mobility to school, social events, or work can feel insufferable for those who want to be depended on themselves, things aren’t so bad. Luckily, it is now convenient for disabled person to share transport means to places.
Uber and the competitors have now made it easy for individuals with disabilities to get a ride than it was before. In fact, it is getting a lot easier.
Ride-sharing opportunities offered by such companies allow disabled persons to be able to get from one place to another at affordable costs.
UberAccess, for example, is an app that allows individuals with mobility issues to quickly and easily find travel options that will enable independence while still providing the help they need. With this app, seniors and disabled individuals who depend on wheelchair selection criteria for mobility get assistance from trained drivers.
In addition, drivers that sign up for this track are equipped with vehicles that can accommodate their mobility equipment , whether they use a medical walker or a scooter.
Ability to Access Tools, Messaging Channels and Information
Although some people with disability can use the computer, others cannot because probably they cannot tap the keyboard or the mouse. For example, people with Down’s Syndrome may not have the fine motor skills to be able to use these computer components. However, in an age where people have to get in touch, communicate, share information, and learn more using computers, there are some hopes.
While computing can be accessed by those disabled person with fine motor skills, for those who lack the coordination, they are disadvantaged. Fortunately, technology has make things easier for such a person.
Voice-based, as well as virtual reality interfaces incorporated in computers prove handy to those who lack the fine motor skills. A voice interface can provide a solid recognition system to help disabled persons. It allows the individuals to use the computer or smartphones without the need to using primitive tools like the mouse or keyboard.
A good example of these technologies is seen in Google Voice, Siri, and Amazon’s Echo. Although these voice interface systems are in their infancy, they are still making life easier for disabled persons who need to use messaging channels, get information, and access tools for computing.
Wearable and Internet of Things Connecting Everything
Being able to have environmental control through self-adjusting, automated and connected systems may have changed the lives of people. For disables, things may be getting better because the ability to monitor security, cooling and heating systems, and make adjustments remotely gives them not only independence but also peace of mind.
Disabled persons can now have remotely monitored accessories and equipment at home. For example, a person who is bedridden can use a remote to adjust the temperature of the heating system.
Using Internet of Things products such as August Smart door locks, Nest Thermostat, or Belkin WeMo for switches and sensors help reduce day to day risks of people with disability. They don’t have to make all the walking to operate or adjust equipment at home.
With technologies like Google Voice and Siri, it may in future may easy for those with impaired fine motor skills to use Internet of Things technology.
Wearable like smart phones and smart watches provides real-time, two way, constant communication. Apple Watch and Fitbit for example can allow independence in disabled persons who in most cases rely on caregivers or other persons for their day to day activities.
EyeGaze technology allows individuals to control mouse movement on their screen using their eyes. A Head mouse also does a similar thing but utilizes a reflective dot situated on the centre part of a person head that is detected by a webcam to control a cursor.
A Liberator communication aid having a head switch helps a person with disability to control the environment around them. For example, they can use the device to scroll different columns and rows on screen and hit the button if they want to create some message.
They can also use it to control things within their bedroom for example, opening the windows and curtains, opening and closing doors, as well as the TV.
Easier to Find as well as Share New Research
Many people living with disability want to learn more about it and share their experiences or even research findings in network groups. Technology is helping this in different ways; people can use computers and the internet to learn more about their disability and the causes as well as how to cope.
They can join support groups where they participate and give their experiences and views. This way, it helps a disabled person understand ways to manage their condition or disorder. It is easier to find the support groups and network groups through the internet.
Today, more people with disability are finding that they have independence in their day to day lives by using various forms of technology. Many have their lives transformed and they feel better off than before when they did not have any technology to use to aid them do things around. As more and more innovations are introduced, people with disability will find more opportunities and be able to lead better quality lives.