Touch technology is now ushering in a wave of new adaptations that allow people with disabilities to gain a whole new quality of life. Recently the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) held a conference in Schaumburg, Illinois, near Chicago, to show many new technologies that hold promise for enhancing people’s lives.
ATIA is a non-profit organization of companies that build and sell technology based devices or services to help people with disabilities.
One of the most visual new uses of technology is touch screen computing. A touch screen, like a tablet computer or an iPad, allows people like Justin Benes of Waunakee, WI, to communicate. He has a condition that’s similar to cerebral palsy, so his motor skills are severely affected and confines him to a wheelchair.
Voice synthesis software, like what Steven Hawking has used for decades, is a common use for touch screen devices. With pre recorded sentences or a text-to-speech program, people who aren’t normally able to talk are able to do so through their proxy computer. With a touch screen computer that Justin recently had attached to his wheelchair, he’s able to work at his high school’s cafe where he converses with students and tells them about the daily specials.
A device that is designed for people who are color blind, or with similar visual impairment, is a music player that also can tell you the color of fabric. An example of a piece of technology that has built in adaptability for disabilities is the iPhone. With its zoomable text it’s very friendly to people who have visual impairments.
ATIA wants manufacturers of technology to build accessibility into their products along the way in the product development so everybody can benefit from it. Their next expo is in Orlando on January 26-29.