How I See It: Ivana explores the world of technology

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technologyIt’s pretty amazing how much technology has evolved in the last decade. It was about twenty years ago when Steve Jobs said he would one day build a computer that could fit in your pocket, and everyone laughed at him, but look where we are now. It’s almost uncommon to not have a computer in your pocket now. And that’s just phones. Google has created a self driving vehicle, BMW has created a wheelchair that can climb stairs, and eSight has created glasses that allow blind people to see. Using technology to help people with disabilities isn’t just a new phenomenon; it’s a list that will continue to grow.

The first iPhone that came out was a huge advancement, but what about people with vision impairments who relied on keyboards? All of the sudden, research wasn’t a great importance for companies. All of that later changed because Apple has since developed voice enabled tools and other innovations that make the iPhone more accessible and easier to use for people with disabilities. iPhone and Android phones already include features for the disabled, while Samsung’s Galaxy is the first to incorporate eye-tracking technology for hands-free use. E-book readers such as Kindle and Nook are developing new methods of technology for people with learning disabilities and other conditions.

Disability inspired innovation isn’t something new; it has been around for centuries. Thomas Edison envisaged the phonographs as a means of recording books for the blind. Talking books and even door handles were first created for people with disabilities. Some of the best products you might be using today were designed with disability in mind. Today some of the biggest tech companies like Google and Yahoo have teams specifically working on building technologies that are accessible to everyone. Microsoft has even created a feature for people with ALS who can control a tablet using their eyes. Steve Gleason, a former National Football League player who has ALS, has said, “Until there is a cure for ALS, technology is a cure.” I completely agree with him.

There are more than 1.2 billion people with some type of disability today. Currently there are more than 4,000 assistive technologies that have been designed for the disabled and seniors. Companies today are turning their research and development to assistive technologies. What the future holds for assistive technology is sure to be exciting. There is sure to be new improvements and existing technology is on-route to improve.

Home and computer electronics have allowed people with a disability to have more of a normal life. You can open and close doors through a home security app, you can control your wheelchair, etc. There is even an app that allows piano players to turn sheet music with a nod of the head. To me, it’s amazing that someone can read, write, and communicate with others without even moving. Apps are huge right now and I think it’s safe to say, there’s an app for everything. I did some research on apps because most likely you have these on your phone, tablet, or computer. Some that I found helpful include:

  • Parking Mobility – This app makes finding disabled parking very easy. Parking Mobility can clue you into disabled parking places around you by using iPhone’s GPS capabilities. You can also leave notes for other travelers or residents about disabled parking spots that you’ve located that aren’t currently on the map. The more you use it and update it, the more it helps others.
  • Emergency Information – This is a very useful app for people with a disability. The My Emergency Info app holds vital medical information such as allergies and medications. There is also information needed in case of a medical emergency such as contact information with your doctor, etc.

Technology isn’t going to slow down anytime soon and it’s exciting to see all these new advances becoming available. I am beyond thrilled to know that ten, twenty, thirty years from now I might still be able to do things on my own with the help of technology! Independence is priceless, and I want to continue to do everything I love and I know the tech industry is nowhere close to being done. That’s why it’s so exciting, because the sky is the limit.

“Our vision is to create innovative technology that is accessible to everyone and that adapts to each person’s needs. Accessible technology eliminates barriers for people with disabilities and it enables individuals to take full advantage of their capabilities.” 
—Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft is an amazing company that recognizes all sorts of minorities. What they offer goes beyond what I can put in this article. If you want more information go to Microsoft Accessibility at www.microsoft.com/enable.

It is extremely hard to feel your body changing and you are powerless to it. The body that once pushed you, is now starting to work against you. Individuals with disabilities meet barriers of all types but technology is defiantly lowering many of these barriers. Do not let your disability affect your lifestyle; there are tools and devices that exist to help you overcome these obstacles.

“Out potential, is not contained in our physical bodies but rather in our mind and our spirit.”

           - NFL hero Steve Gleason. 

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Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina but moved to Canada at the age of 3. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago and it has forever changed her life.  She is a regular contributor and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way and what she continues to learn today. Read Ivana’s personal blog at: https://milarosa6.wordpress.com/ 

 

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