Assistive Tech Levels the Field for Disabilities
The Internet and assistive technology offer enormous potential for leveling the playing field for people with disabilities. To enhance digital equity, important links to friends, family, and support networks must be provided; in a nutshell, social isolation and hurdles to achievement must be combated through technology and education.
Easterseals Washington, with the tagline “All Abilities, Limitless Possibilities,” prioritizes the use of technology, including connectivity and training, across all of its service lines. Access to the internet and its numerous applications is critical to assisting everyone we serve in establishing and achieving their own goals. One in every four Americans has an ability, whether visible or invisible to others, and everyone, regardless of ability, should be able to chart their own destiny.
Cathy Bisaillon, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Easterseals Washington began her career with Easterseals Washington as a direct service provider 26 years ago. She has assisted people with disabilities in finding jobs and improving their lives through their accomplishments. That immensely satisfying work has inspired her to manage the organization with the potential of participants in mind every day. She has seen the internet, devices, and software rapidly evolve, allowing job seekers, students, and program participants to create their own video resumes, apply for jobs online, access spoken language via communication devices, and reconnect with family members all over the world via email and social media.
While much progress has been achieved toward bringing digital equity to people with disabilities, there is still much work to be done. According to Pew Research, one-quarter of persons with disabilities never go online, and more than half do not have home internet (American Association of People with Disabilities).
Easterseals Washington recently teamed with Comcast to build a Lift Zone Lab: Community Learning Space at the Gateway Adult Services site in Bremerton as part of their commitment to giving technology accessible to people of all abilities. It will make digital literacy training easier for adults with disabilities, such as sensory, physical, intellectual, and aging difficulties. The sky is the limit, with participants’ communication, memory, job growth, community access, overall independence, computer literacy, motor abilities, and so much more expected to improve dramatically.
The Lift Zone Lab is outfitted with a variety of technology and assistance gadgets to personalize each individual’s digital experience. A person with autism, for example, will use virtual reality to overcome social anxiety; and clients with mobility issues will gain independence by learning to operate Smart Home devices and accessing them with adaptive equipment.
The Lab’s inventory of assistive technology comprises the following items:
Jelly Bean Switched – Make navigating easier by using switched-to-toggle objects and more readily select what consumers are looking for.
Tetra Mouse – This allows for the usage of a mouse and computer navigation by utilizing one’s lips.
GlassOuse Wearable Mouse – Looks like a pair of glasses and links through Bluetooth to mobile phones, PCs, tablets, and Smart TVs to redefine technology for people with limited mobility.
Accessible Desks & Device Holders – All desks and device holders are fully adjustable to meet the needs of the person.
The Lift Zone Lab initiative fulfills a goal in Easterseals Washington’s current Strategic Plan by developing crucial collaborations that enhance equity for individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life. It is anticipated that the activation of such labs around the state in the near future.
Bisaillon frequently emphasizes that they need to get rid of the “do-for” in disability services. Assistive technology, internet access, and training funds enable people with impairments to do things they never thought possible. It enables people, as service providers, to know that they have done more than just give care – that they have also brought inspiration, challenge, and transformation.
Connectivity and accessible technology will become increasingly crucial for people of all abilities in the next years. Our objective is to stay up to date on the latest technologies and approaches so that people with disabilities can continue to pursue their dreams.
Information from GeekWire