Technology has revolutionized our lives and led to improvements in all areas of our lives. Similarly, technology is helping our world become more and more accessible for disabled people and making their lives easier. For those living with disabilities and their families, the assistive technology that many of us take for granted becomes essential.
From providing help with reading despite a visual impairment to keeping the deaf included in a group conversation, to helping patients with shaky hands have a meal independently, technology has given hope to the differently-abled persons and improved their lives.
Here are a few emerging accessible technologies to watch out for in 2021.
1. Power Assist Devices
Power assist devices can be a great solution for many mobility-related ADLs (activities of daily living). We can use a power assist device when we are carrying objects, grocery shopping, pushing a baby stroller, going up ramps or hills, mopping, sweeping, or when we need to negotiate thresholds or carpet inside of the home or outside of the home. These power assist devices are great for physically challenged people and help them in mobility.
2. Remote Services
Remote Services have become the norm in 2020 because of the pandemic and they are here to stay and grow in 2021. The COVID-19 affected everyone on the planet and it led to the growth of remote services and applications, which have allowed the us to continue living our lives while sitting at home. As web-based applications are growing day by day, they also present great convenience for the disabled who were not previously able to participate in essential activities such as education, work, etc.
Web applications focused on helping disabled people are increasing day-by-day and present equal opportunities for them.
3. Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)
There are many reasons why a person may not be able to communicate using speech. They may have a developmental disability, which has affected the development of speech. They may have an acquired disorder that has affected the person’s ability to speak. AAC technology lets people with speech impairment and disabilities communicate without having to speak.
There are many types of AAC devices and tools, which are aided or unaided. Examples of AAC can be text-based, symbol-based or multimodal communication devices, which help disabled people, communicate with others, and live a better life without social isolation.
4. Assistive Touch
People with motor disabilities such as Spinal cord injury, Loss or damage of limb(s), Cerebral palsy, Muscular dystrophy, Multiple sclerosis, etc. have difficulty in using the limbs or fingers. Due to this difficulty, using certain gestures or tapping on a particular area of the screen will be extremely difficult. In certain cases, the use of physical button such as the home button, volume, and lock/ power button cannot be accomplished easily.
Apple’s recent assistive touch features are a major advancement in this domain and we expect more companies to follow the suit and introduce assistive touch features in their devices.
5. Adaptive Computing
"Adaptive computing" refers to the professional services and technology (both hardware and software) that make computing technology accessible for persons with disabilities. This technology can be used in many settings such as schools, industry, rehabilitation facilities, and the community can use knowledge of adaptive computing to help disabled people access the digital world easily.
By using computing technology for tasks such as reading and writing documents, communicating with others, and searching for information on the Internet, students and employees with disabilities are capable of handling a wider range of activities independently.