Terms are rife in the world of technology. One that resonates in the workplace is productivity tools. It’s another phrase for Assistive Technology which has a kind of medical feel to it. I like Abi James’ phrase she uses which is Enabling Technologies. This refers to the empowerment Assistive Technology brings to the lives of individuals.
At AccessAbility Solutions we believe in the enabling and empowerment that technology can bring to individual lives, like the author who has macular degeneration and may need to rely on speech recognition in the future if it deriorates further. It also applies to the dyslexic learner who may need text to speech in order to decode words and also their meanings. Linking the sound of the word and its constituent letters to the visual word is a powerful aide to the dyslexic.
Abi also referred in her recent webinar for the need to understand beyond what current products to use to the wider need for strategies to employ for successful integration. Abi works on the BDA New Technologies group and along with her colleagues have come up with a strategy called STREET. It’s process led and can be jumped in on at any stage.
At a time in our education system where ICT is not being promoted so much and often questioned of its value we have a problem Houston. In the UK we do not have a m,ain source of impartial help and advice that is available that relates to Schools. We used to have this. It was called BECTA , now we don’t ! So where can schools go to to receive appropriate advice? This issue in my opinion needs urgent attention and so I would love to hear any educationalist suggestions you may have.
Back to the STREET strategy. If all the areas are covered it is likely that a new technology will be introduced successfully. I know from my own experience that “simple is best” and that when the technology is matched to the needs and preferences of the user it will work.
One blind lady I have worked with was given the chance to use an Echo Dot. She loved the experience and before I knew it she had bought herself one. She uses it to play games, listen to music and books. Not only that she bought a second one for her bedroom so that she could have quiet music to go to sleep with. Is the Echo Dot a specialist equipment? No, it is a mainstream, off the shelf device that is being used to enable someone with a severe sensory deficit to access things she loves and activities to her life. That is enabling technologies at work and the trend in the future is going to increase with the advent of AI.
The Shape of Things to Come
This was the title of a 1933 sci fi classic. Whether all the predictions about Artificial Intelligence become true or not what is clear is that it will be good news for the disabled. Seeing AI and Soundscape are 2 apps that show the potential of being able to navigate successfully your environment . But we will enter the world of our technology knowing what we want to do before even we do! This could have a massive impact on our lives particularly older people who through disability may need technologies that anticipate need before it happens.
To some extent this is already happening. An Apple watch saved someone’s life when they were having medical problem before they new it. An alert was sent to the person’s watch to seek medical help immediately and he took himself to the hospital where it was discovered he had ruptured an ulcer. Click below for the full story:-
The downside or upside depending on your viewpoint is that has more people wear smart watches that measure heartbeat more and more people are finding our their heartbeat is irregular and going to the doctors to discover they have Atrial Fribulation or AF!! The incidence of AF is being discovered as more widespread than anyone knew!
Wearables is the generic term and we all recognise their usefulness. I personally like to track sleep patterns as I am really poor at getting a good night’s sleep. How else can you know how long you’ve slept. You’ve been asleep, right? It’s not just the sleep but the quality of sleep – how much was light? How much was REM? These devices graphically show this. So although none of these devices can solve your medical or personal issues it does give you useful information you can act on, make goals for.
One negative effect of wearables is distraction. Great as it is to be notified it does cause you to break off conversations inadvertently (or intentionally!) which my wife says is most infuriating!!
So the future beckons!