Tag Archives | accessibility

Image by paulbr75, pixabay.com

We know technology has grown exponentially over the past 20 years in ways that make our lives fun and efficient, but it has also made life easier and safer for some. Here are three tech advances that are really changing lives:

1. Smart watches for blind people
Think about the last time you had trouble finding where you were going. Now imagine being disoriented again, only this time you’re blind. Sometimes we take things like vision for granted, and Sunu is changing things. Fernando Albertorio is co-founder of this company, and legally blind. He recognized a need for a product that could help him navigate without bumping into objects, and created a wristband that emits ultrasound waves and uses varying levels of vibrations to let him know how close objects are. Not only is this product practical for the blind or visually impaired, but it increases their confidence and way of living. Albertorio even ran a 5K race wearing it.
Price: $299

2. Self-driving wheelchairs
You’ve heard of self-driving cars – so it’s only logical that self-driving wheelchairs would be just as possible. A Canadian research team has claimed to develop technology that would allow wheelchairs to drive themselves. The idea has presented itself before, however, the price for one of these was in the range of $30,000 – not exactly affordable. Toronto’s Cyberworks Robotics and the University of Toronto say they can create one for a cost of $300-$700. Self-driving wheelchairs would assist those who have low mobility in their upper body and may not be able – or find it difficult – to use joysticks and similar features on current motorized vehicles. While still a work in progress, it’s a good move towards improving the quality of life for those confined to wheelchairs.
Price: TBD

3. A device to prevent sexual assault
Sexual assault cases are constantly in the news, and MIT researchers wanted to develop a way to help detect it and prevent it. Too many times on campus, students are intoxicated and end up in situations where their judgment isn’t clear. The Intrepid Smart Sticker was created with the idea that it can be fastened to the inside of your clothing and sync to your phone. The sticker recognizes when clothes are being removed, and sends a notification to the wearer’s phone asking for consent. If a response isn’t received, the phone will start buzzing loudly, and if a response is still not received, the identified contacts in the user’s “safety circle” will be notified and receive their location and a phone call. The app will also start recording the phone call and any other noises. Based on input from assault survivors, volunteers, and users, the Intrepid team believes this device could really help cut down the number of assault cases.
Price: TBD

Image by Priscilla du Preez, unsplash.com

Choosing the right college is already a daunting task for any high school graduate, but it can be especially difficult for those with a disability. Beyond location and financial considerations, disabled students need to find a school with adequate resources to meet their needs.

Many colleges offer special accommodations for students with mobility impairments and learning disabilities. Legislation introduced over the past several decades has helped to further the cause of disabled students, giving them the same rights as their peers and leveling the academic playing field. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, an institution receiving federal funding cannot limit the number of students with disabilities admitted and cannot restrict students because of their limitations.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 also ensured that disabled adults had the right to an education. Title II of the act prohibits discrimination by public colleges and requires schools to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled students, while Title III prohibits discrimination by private universities. Though legislation is in place to protect disabled students, every school has its own unique interpretation when it comes to reasonable accommodations, and it’s important to learn all you can about a prospective school’s policies before making a final decision.

Learn About Services Offered

Every school offers different services and facilities for its students, including the disabled population. Depending on the school, reasonable accommodation for a disabled student can include a number of things, such as:

  • Ramps, curbs, and lifts to access buildings
  • Learning assistance programs, including interpreters, readers, note-takers, and more
  • Additional time to complete coursework
  • Alternative course requirements
  • Modified tests and assignments

You can find out more about what services a school offers by speaking with the institution’s disability office or department. A representative should be able to tell you if the school can provide accommodations that suit your disability.

Visit the Campus

After doing your research, visiting prospective colleges is one of the best ways to get a feel for the place. Not only can you see if the lifestyle suits your preferences, but you can also check out the disabled accessibility options of buildings on campus as well as other facilities in person. During a visit, you can consider important questions such as:

  • Are there elevators in multiple-story buildings?
  • Does the library have accessible aisles and shelving?
  • Are residence halls close to classes?
  • Are there ramps and cut curbs along the sidewalks?
  • Is there enough handicapped parking?

Taking a trip to colleges that interest you also gives you the chance to speak with students living and working on campus. You can chat with others who have similar disabilities to get an inside perspective on the services and accommodations that a university offers.

This article was contributed by guest author Sally Writes.