In Canada, we often hear of people with disabilities struggling to attain the funds required to purchase an expensive piece of technology that could potentially change a disabled person’s life for the better.
It has been argued that since disabled people have some unique types of aptitudes that they are best suited for working in the online world, where you’re judged by ideas rather than your appearance. That can’t always be the case though if disabled people can’t access websites using assistive technologies to formulate those ideas though.
The Senior Usability Specialist at Desire2Learn, Janna Cameron said in her TEDxUW talk, run by Techvibes’ very own Prashanth Gopalan, that over 90% of websites had assistive technology accessibility problems, and that just 54% who have disabilities use the web.
That’s not to say that there isn’t incredibly innovative technology being built to address disabled people’s disadvantages.
Safwan Choudhury, who also spoke at TEDxUW has a disabled family member, so he was inspired to invent a wheelchair that was thought controlled for paralyzed persons. He said that engineering is about small problems that you can individually solve. In this case the three-step process was about reading thoughts, interpreting thoughts and then acting on interpretation for the technology to work. He also says that there is a large jump between theory and reality, so you have to close the gap.
Other thought controlled technology includes the widely profiled Toronto-based company Interaxon, who have developed technology to draw images and play games using a thought-controlled headset.
Further, at TIFF Nexus’ Locative Media day in Toronto last month as part of the Peripherals Initiative in association with Ryerson University, the first ever eye-controlled video game was produced.
That’s just as advertisers use natural language programming and eye-tracking technology to determine how best to shape and format the structure and content of a website.
Just as playing your Nintendo Wii has become a valid form of rehabilitation in some hospitals across the country.
Technology continues to give a better life to those who have become disabled temporarily and permanently.