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Another significant software that mobility impaired people can utilize is speech recognition by using this software a person can dictate the text which they want to type and this software will type it on the screen.
Hearing Impairment: People with hearing or speaking impairments have been using sign language to communicate with others. Technology developed and people with listening impairment were able to take help of assistive listening systems and devices to overcome their problem. Later on computer-assisted real-time transcription (CART) further helped these people. Certain sounds and beeps that computer make becomes inaudible for the people suffering from hearing impairment. Appearance of visual warning on the screen when computer make any beep or sound works as a remedy for those people who cannot hear properly. Another way in which technology is playing a great part in solving this problem is the flashing of light for example flashing of light may act as an indicator that a command has completed. "The latest breakthrough in technology for the deaf is telecomputing. People who are deaf can use an ordinary telephone by using a voice synthesizer that speaks their typed-in words. The person at the other end uses the telephone's buttons to spell out words that then appear on the deaf user's screen. In addition to being much faster than the old style telephone devices (TDD's) for the deaf, telecomputing is more advantageous because very few hearing individuals have teletype machines, while the number of persons with computers and modems is booming" (Zeitzer, 1991).
Despite advancements these technologies have yet to make these people completely independent. Environment should also facilitate such people as there are still public buildings where ramps are not there for people with mobility impairment. Some technologies provide indispensable help to blind people to carry on their work but it has certain limitations as well. Due to the high cost everyone cannot afford to utilize these technologies. Another limitation that Braille display has is that most of the blind people in U.S. do not understand Braille which makes them unable to utilize the benefits of this technology. However, people also adapt technology to their own needs by reinvention and also face problems & issues. "The degree to which technology is changed or modified by a user in the process of its adoption and implementation is termed re-invention (Rogers, 1995). Many individuals with disabilities have devised additions or modifications to their devices to meet their unique needs (Zola, 1982). As a result of re-invention, technology can become more appropriate in meeting an individual's present needs and more responsive to future needs that arise (Rogers, 1995)" (Riemer-Reiss & Wacker, 2000).
Mental Disability & Technology
People with neurological disabilities may communicate by writing, typing, or using a communication board or other electronic device. Assistive devices that are used for many learning and cognitive impairments often mingle with the devices that are used by the people suffering from other impairments. For instance, a cognitive condition called cerebral palsy may be the combination of visual, mobility, and hearing impairment. So, the person suffering from cerebral palsy may use any of the devices used by those who are suffering from other impairments. However, there is a special software for cognitive impairment called word prediction software for those who have very slow typing speed. This software predicts the word which the user intend to type on the basis of initial words written by the user.
Future of Technology
The technology for disabled people is constantly going through evolution and people making it as well as using it are making this technology more effective. As changes are implemented in this realm the life of people with disability would become more easy and normal. "When computers have higher speeds and more main memory, voice recognition will likely improve, as will the hardware and peripherals. At the moment, in order for me to dictate text through voice recognition and manipulate it into word processing, I need to wear two separate headsets: one for the voice-recognition microphone and a second for a gyroscope used to control the mouse via head movements. This is bulky, and I look forward to the day when I can wear just one headset and do all the work I need to do hands-free. Perhaps a camera on top of my monitor would photograph my lip motions to make voice recognition more accurate. Perhaps that same camera would photograph my eye motions and blink rate to determine my alertness and productivity" (Lodato, 2005).
The future of a society depends on the education and training of the whole population and that includes children and adults with disabilities. After attaining proper education, all special children move into the next stage of their life cycle where they assume different roles and contribute positively to the society as well. So, this period of education is very important for them as they learn new things and at the same time nurture the desire to move ahead in life. If they learn and gain knowledge like other normal individuals then they can also make better contributions to the society at large and become productive member of the society. The assistive technologies over the years have evolved and they are moving in the right direction to provide these people with disabilities a better life. There are definitely some bottlenecks and hitches along the way but if persistently pursued then the technology will definitely pave the way for their better future.
High-Tech Aids Offer New Options to Deaf, Blind'. (September-October 1989). The Futurist. 23(5): 50+.
Goals Still within Sight; Blind Striving to Live like Others'. (December 24, 2006). The Washington Times.
Lodato, J. (January-February 2005). Advances in Voice Recognition: A First-Hand Look at the Magic of Voice-Recognition Technology. The Futurist. 39(1): 7+.
Riemer-Reiss, M. & Wacker, R. (2000). Factors Associated with Assistive Technology Discontinuance among Individuals with Disabilities. The Journal of Rehabilitation. 66(3): 44.
Duhaney, D. & Garrick, L. (2000). Assistive Technology: Meeting the Needs of Learners with Disabilities. International Journal of Instructional Media. 27(4): 393.
Zeitzer, I. (1991). The Role of Assistive Technology in Promoting Return to Work for People with Disabilities: The U.S. And Swedish Systems. Social Security Bulletin. 54(7): 24-29.
Edyburn, D. (may, 2000).Assistive technology and students with mild…[continue]
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