IT can build a better future for the people with disabilities

Author Ani Dilanyan

IT can build a better future for the people with disabilities

Submitted on Nov 28, 2022

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29 people voted

People with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. While there is a huge amount of knowledge-based treatment tools and techniques, as well as innovative solutions of traditional methods towards dealing with the needs of those people, nowdays information technologies (IT) could serve as the leading driving force, aimed at improving the quality of life for millions of people with disabilities.


Assistive Technology (AT)

It is worth to mention, that there is an increasing application of AT in industries dealing with the targeted people. AT has a huge potential to improve the environment people with disabilities live in and act, such as in the workplace, in the community, or at school, through removing traditional barriers of communication and providing an alternative perspective.

In particular, AT enables people with hearing problems to go to theaters and hear the movie’s dialog through assistive listening devices or read it via captions. It allows people with physical disabilities to build up friendships at a coffeehouse by using a variety of mobility options. AT provides text to audio solutions, provides translations to those, who can’t access printed passages, because they cannot see and immediate audio to text translations, to those, who cannot hear lectures, listen to music, to those, who cannot speak, express their needs or interact with friends or with family.


Augmentative and alternative communication system (AAC)

Many people with speech or language impairments or communication challenges greatly benefit from technology and the range of applications. While some of them correct speech that are faulty or damaged, others can help people to communicate with others and participate in social activities.

Particularly, AAC provides different means for people with speech and language impairments to interact and communicate with others. Advances in computer technology, particularly speech synthesizers, have changed the mode of communication for many individuals with digital devices, such as phones or computers, through apps a person can type in a message and have it converted into voice or print.

Through this people not only develop competence in communication, or functional language skills, but also gain self esteem and independence. The current capabilities of electronic AACs are endless, and the relevant devices continue to improve.


Dealing with learning disabilities

Some innovation technologies are particularly useful to people with disabilities, as they help them become more efficient and effective learners. Through the internet and related apps, people can visit virtual museums and libraries all around the world. In its turn, the word processing technology contributes to the overall cross-industry efforts of dealing with people with learning disabilities.


Treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Electronic personal organizers and personal digital assistants help to manage time, remember appointments and give reminders of important due dates. Some software programs provide special benefits to individuals whose thinking skills seem disorganized. For example, the Report writer interactive provides the user with structure during the writing process, helping people in organizing their thoughts, placing them in a logical sequence and producing a written document.


Alternative support in treatment for Emotional or Behavioral Disorder

Computers facilitate learning without the pressure of subjective assessments, as IT serves as an emotionally neutral system with which one can interact, have fun, achieve success and engage actively in learning.


Treating Mental Retardation

The E-Buddies program serves as a good example of helping people with mental retardation, while connecting with each other across the public, at large. It also facilitates the engagement in the community, through development of friendships between people with other disabilities.


Assisting those with Physical or Health Disabilities

Computers allow access to different environments and people. The adaptations that technology provides for individuals with special physical and health considerations include high tech devices, such as computers, that control the environment, ventilators, or hardware and software that allow for voice output of printed text.


Mainstream application of IT to meet the needs of people (Deaf and Hard of Hearing)

Many hearing aids are digital and are designed to address each individual’s hearing profile. Digital hearing aids automatically adjust volume by amplifying sounds only to the degree necessary to compensate for the loss at each frequency of sound, which also significantly reduces background noise.

Real time captions (RTC) can help deaf people in taking notes during conferences, lectures or read lips or watch a sign language interpreter simultaneously. Automatic speech recognition (ASR) is technology that enables the computer automatically to convert speech at rates below 160 words per minute into text. Altering devices (AD) make people who are deaf aware of an event or important sound in their environment via a loud noise or the sense of sight or touch. Some alerting devices include sound sensitive monitors, that let the deaf person know about a baby who is crying or about an out of the ordinary sound. This allows great flexibility in placement of these devices and in the number of them that can be activated at any one time.


Helping people with Low vision and Blindness

Visual input devices help people with visual loss access to visual information in the environment. Particularly, closed-circuit television (CCTV) technology allows video magnifier to a large print found in printed text and books. Audio input devices enable people to hear what otherwise would be read or seen. Talking ATMS’s, talking books, audio-descriptions are orally presented narrations of nonverbal cues and visual information presented on the screen or stage. Tactile input devices allow people to use touch to gain information. For example, Braille, which allows people to read by feeling letters that have been translated into patterns of dots raised or embossed on a flat surface such as paper.


To sum up, there are many IT solutions that allow people with disabilities to better their lives and engage in communities. While the possibilities of the advancements in the aforementioned apps and systems seem endless, there are diverse obstacles that should be urgently addressed.

The lack of access to the internet and technologies in many parts of the world, including the lack of know-hows, essentially hinders the widespread utilization of IT solutions towards that end. For example, according to the World Health Organization, only 1 in 10 people in need have access to AT. Another issue is the lack of access to those technologies due to the financial resources. As an example, the costs of assistive devices, even if they dynamically decrease, still are a major issue for people with disabilities.

However, these issues may, hopefully, further trigger the big IT community, namely the start-ups, funding actors, such as angel investors, venture capitalists, crowd-funders and all other investors, to improve or further introduce effective solutions aimed at closing or mitigating the gaps in addressing the specific needs of the people with disabilities. Although we have rich and poor in the world, having access to opportunities in varying degrees, due to the financial or other resources, we cannot afford to have society with the lack of access to simple communication and living meaningful life for all. 


The "talking glove" invented by Morrison Heady (1829-1915), a cotton glove with the letters of the alphabet printed at multiple places on the hand. Heady memorized the location of each letter on the glove so that friends and others who wished to communicate with him could tap the letters of the glove spelling out words.

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