Today I”m featuring a guest post by Sean Humboldt who is sharing some thoughts on helpful technologies.
While there are benefits and disadvantages to everything, including technological developments, for many people in the disabled community there have been many things which have made life much easier over the last few decades, with the bonus that most of them are affordable and accessible by most people. And there is only more to come, with many companies including accessibility options by default (or through demand) in their software. While not everything is perfect, the future is looking much brighter.
Here are some of the most common and key ways connectivity and modern technology have helped people overcome or more easily live with their disabilities:
1) Text to Speech and Voice Recording Advancements
While closed-captioning technology was previously available for TV, it was impossible to have a transcriber for every piece of media. Now, however, closed captions are becoming the standard online, on top of the vast wealth of written information available at a quick search.
Additionally, larger video sharing sites are starting to use programs to automatically create captions for videos and even live content. And while the results are not always perfect (if humorous), then there is something to be said about its rate of improvement and implementation. As researchers are better able to pinpoint human speech patterns and notice common errors, the more accurate this technology will become and better able to help people access all information and content people with full hearing can.
Conversely, those with difficulty handling the fine motor movements necessary to operate a standard mouse and keyboard can much more easily find convenience in voice activated assistants and programs, with accuracy also improving every year, if not every few months.
2) Significantly Easier Text-Only Communication
For many people who have difficulties with speech or are hearing impaired, the ability to communicate instantaneously has changed how they can live their lives. Most communication can be done on the computer without audio, and people now are able to type or text so quickly that long conversations can be had easily.
Combined with advancements in smartphone technology that make it easier for people with these abilities to communicate with those who might not understand sign language, we can remain hopeful that communication will continue to improve and build bridges between people of all backgrounds.
3) Additional Customization Options Online to View or Read Content
Most might not even notice the ability to easily change most font sizes on their computer, or the ability to zoom in on practically anything, or other settings of the sort. For people with visual impairments, these developments make life significantly easier, and can help people with light sensitivity, color-blindness of various types, and more.
And it makes sense. Given that there are literally billions of people that use the internet every day, there are hundreds of thousands to millions of people that could benefit from each of these options, making them absolutely worthwhile to software developers.
4) Social Media Is Connecting More People than Ever
Something that is not acknowledged enough is the fact that many people with disabilities find it much more difficult to be social. This can lead to challenges with mental health, a lower overall quality of life, and a myriad of other issues.
And while there is something to be said about the value of in-person communication and interaction, social media helps fulfill a need and find a community who millions of people who overwise wouldn’t be able to contact many people at all outside of their own families. In fact, one can say people are finding new families thanks to social media and other online platforms. And with developments in video chat and similar technologies, the limitations are becoming fewer.
5) Increasing Employment Opportunities
For many of the same reasons that social media and the other developments listed above have helped people with disabilities, communications technology is also allowing more people to work and make an income for themselves, allowing them to stay at home where accommodations are easier while still doing just as good a job as anyone else. Given the sheer amount of work done by computers and those operating them no matter where they might be, opportunities are
And given the increased shift over to remote work given the COVID-19 crisis and resulting shifts in the economy, even more options will be open to people who have no choice but to work from home. What will happen after the crisis remains to be seen, but we can hope that it opens up the prospective employee pool for employers across the world.
These are only a few of the tools and technologies people with disabilities can and have used to help overcome their challenges and struggles, and a brief search can find dozens more. Additionally, there are constantly new developments in both medical science and communications technology that are making it easier for people around the world to live a normal life no matter their circumstances, so always keep an eye out for what’s around the corner.