Approximately one billion people globally need one or more assistive technologies, but only one in ten people can access these products, according to the World Health Organization. Adaptive technology enhances an individual’s functioning, dignity, and independence, thereby boosting their overall well-being. However, over the past decades, individuals living with disabilities have had many reasons to believe that technology was designed for those without disabilities. For many, technology was equipped with features that could not assist them in any way. Today, tech advancements aim to improve the quality of life for anyone living with a disability. For example, wearable robot suit technology is perfect for individuals with limited mobility. Below are other assistive tech innovations transforming the lives of people with disabilities.
AI-based voice assistants
Alexa, Siri, Amazon Echo, and Cortana are popular AI-enabled voice assistants for individuals with disabilities. Typically, these digital assistants use AI to recognize your voice and perform tasks as commanded. For instance, you can command Siri or Alexa to switch on lights or control your music playlist, and they’ll do it seamlessly. With voice-controlled tech devices, people with restricted mobility can control lights and temperature, unlock doors, and switch tv channels with ease.
Robotic assistive technology is gaining popularity worldwide, as it promises to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities. For example, the robotic arm designed by Kinova comes fitted with a three-fingered gripper, has six degrees of movement, and it’s easy to attach to an electric wheelchair. Since driver controls on motorized wheelchairs control the robotic arm, users can move, reach, or manipulate items nearby. Ideally, using a robotic arm allows a person who uses a wheelchair to open doors, eat, drink, pick an item, or scratch an itch without much hassle.
Another innovative robotic helper is the walk assist robot. Robotic exoskeleton or robot legs can help a child with cerebral palsy walk without struggling. According to https://cpfamilynetwork.org/, caring for a child living with cerebral palsy can be daunting. That’s because individuals with cerebral palsy have difficulty walking upright and, over time, lose the ability to walk unless they undergo expensive orthopedic surgery. However, with robotic legs, children with cerebral palsy can maintain the ability to walk upright.
Mobile Assistive Devices
Thanks to the availability of assistive technologies in mobile devices, individuals with hearing, mobility, or visual impairments can navigate and communicate with ease. For instance, mobile apps like VoiceOver available on iPhones and iPads, and Talkback for Android reads texts aloud. That way, individuals with visual impairment can engage with written content by simply moving a finger over texts or icons. Skyle is another exciting mobile app that allows users with limited mobility or verbal capacity to interact with iPad Pro using eye gaze. In addition to promoting independence, this software increases opportunities for communication, access, and environmental control.
Technological advances like AI, the Internet of Things, and virtual and augmented reality are transforming how people live at home and carry out duties at work or school. And individuals living with disabilities have not been left behind. With innovative technologies like robotics, voice-controlled assistants, and mobile assistive devices, people with disabilities can experience great levels of convenience and independence.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!