Jericho, NY 11753
It can be said that disability and technology are inexorably linked. Having the first means needing the second. People with disabilities need new materials and devices to develop so their bodies can continue functioning properly. They need prosthetics and other adaptive devices to continue to improve and become easier to use. They need automobiles that compensate for their disabilities, making them easier to use and safer to drive. They need the tools they use in both home and office to adapt to their changing needs. All these things require that technological advances continue, and they have.
This isn’t new work for me. Several years ago I was a regular contributor to a magazine called Virtual Reality (VR) Special Report. My articles focused on the VR tools that were being developed to assist people with disabilities to lead better lives. Since then I’ve written articles with titles like ‘The Internet and Disability,’ ‘Talking with your Computer,’ and ‘In a Wheelchair and Behind the Wheel.’ Each of these articles focused on a different way in which technology helped some portion of the disabled community.
Recently I have had several people contact me, requesting my assistance with promoting various technologies for the use of people with disabilities. Last week I was on a radio talk show entitled “Let’s Talk Computers.” The show’s hosts asked me to speak about the various ways computers have been, and continue to be, of significant help to people with a wide range of disabilities. Today a software developer contacted me, asking me to assist him in the promotion of software that will help children who have autism learn.
Obviously disability and technology still go hand in hand. People with disabilities, and those who care about them, still want to know about the technological advances being made to make their lives easier.
In this continuing column we will explore the different technologies that have made the lives of people with disabilities easier. Together we will look at both high technologies and low technologies, everything from adaptive devices that help people feed and dress themselves to virtual reality machines that teach people to use a wheelchair or ride a bus. We will hear from leaders in various fields, from people who design tools for daily living to those who build implantable computer chips, replacement organs, and artificial limbs. We will learn how new materials and new devices are constantly making the lives of people with disabilities easier. I hope you will enjoy this journey.