If there’s no one in your personal life who experiences a form of disability, you may not be aware of the incredible array of resources available to help people work more effectively. But “assistive technology” can help almost anyone, not just the disabled.
AccelaWork toured the offices of the Easter Seals Crossroads and in particular the grant-supported Assistive Technology lab. This organization provides equipment, training, services, and more for disabled individuals. Their mission statement explains more about what they do. First for Easterseals as a whole:
Easterseals provides exceptional services, education, outreach, and advocacy so that people living with autism and other disabilities can live, learn, work and play in our communities. Easterseals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for more than 90 years. From child development centers to physical rehabilitation and job training for people with disabilities, Easterseals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals.
And for the Assistive Technology lab:
Easter Seals Crossroads has been providing assistive technology solutions in Indiana since 1979. In 2007, Easter Seals Crossroads partnered with the State of Indiana, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services to establish the Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) Project. The INDATA Project is one of 56 similar, federally-funded projects designed to increase access and awareness of assistive technology.
INDATA core services include: Information and referral, funding assistance,public awareness and education, device demonstration, device loan, reutilized computers, and equipment reutilization.
“The term ‘assistive technology device’ means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” – Assistive Technology Act of 1998
The gadgets in their facility are obscure and impressive. There are digital magnifiers, text-to-speech devices and oversized keyboards. Thanks to the generous funding sources that support Easter Seals, anyone in need can typically borrow some of this technology for a 30-day trial period.
It’s tempting just to nod appreciatively at groups like Easter Seals and thank them for their service to a small portion of the population. But this kind of sentiment is a disservice—not only to those who are disabled as well as the assistive technology community, but also to our broader relationship with work. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. Consider the following:
- Even if you have “good” vision, your productivity will increase with a larger screen
- Even if you have “excellent” hearing, well-designed audio cues can help you work more efficiently
- Even if you have “strong” typing skills, a break to use speech recognition software will often be helpful
It’s worth looking at the steps taken by groups to make things accessible for those who are disabled. There may be inspiration you can take in order to make your own workflow more efficient. Golf carts were originally invented to transport the elderly. They weren’t adopted for their use on the links until the 1950s. But the inclusion of a cart sure makes playing 18 holes much more relaxing. By removing the need to walk from shot to shot, golfers are able to better focus on making good, solid contact with the ball.
There are numerous other examples of things like this that we could bring up. But the point remains the same throughout. If there’s any way you can make your own life easier or more productive, shouldn’t you take it?
Whoever invented the term “assistive technology” should be applauded. We all use technology and can all benefit from some kind of assistance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Learn more by contacting our business consultants today!