At last some creative design thinking in assistive technologies. No, assistive devices do not need to look ugly and purely functional, but too often they are. The FastCompany website has an interesting article about technology designed to be discrete and not stigmatising. Probably the most interesting design is a robot disguised as a coffee table that is also a walking aid. Then there is the GPS navigator for people who are blind that is designed as bracelets. Not keeping up with the App world and the move from CDs to Spotify? There’s a device to help which is especially useful for people not born in the digital age. The link to the coffee table is well work a look.
There are lots of reasons why some people have difficulty communicating. It can arise from a brain injury, a stroke, or a condition such as motor neurone disease. Inability to communicate easily often means that people avoid social situations due to feeling inferior. The Conversation article, We can all help to improve communication for people with disabilities, lists some of the simple things that remove the barriers to communication. They range from the kind of devices used by Stephen Hawking, to just giving the person time to finish what they are trying to say. Speech is just one aspect of the issue, hearing is the other. There is useful information under each of the headings in the article:
- Remove communication barriers
- Prepare for communication success
- Build a conversation together
- Use communication aids and alternative strategies when you talk.
The technology used in the Ability House could be used in any home. It shows how many everyday inventions can be used by people with different kinds of disability. Indeed, everyone could enjoy most of these creative technological adaptations. The website Technology for Independence uses the latest web technology to provide visual walk-throughs of a home showcasing all the different technology. The website has two separate videos. It is designed to provide information about alternative methods to operate home appliances such as: doors, the bed, lights, windows, the telephone, TV, music system, curtains, blinds, air conditioner, heater and fans. When you enter the Ability House you can select the appliance and find the solution. This website is information only as AbilityTech is not a supplier of devices.
The Australian Assistive Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Association conference will be in Melbourne 14-16 November 2018. Three full days of evidence and practice-based sessions, discussions, posters and demonstrations, and much more. National and international keynote speakers, a breakfast session and trade display all make for a jam-packed event.
Universal Design and Assistive Technolgy (AT) are partners in the same quest – inclusion and participation for everyone. AAATE believes that UD (Design for All) and AT should be looked at as part of the same domain of knowledge, rather that deal with these as two distinct domains. Practitioners in the UD world focus on designs that are inclusive and enabling rather than excluding. However, UD is not the answer to everything and some people need individual solutions and specialised designs. The simplest example is a paraplegic needs both a wheelchair and a step-free entry. One is no good without the other. AT is now a major part of the NDIS and there is growing interest in this field