Did you know that one billion people on earth have a disability? That means nearly 15 percent of the entire population requires some form of accessible or assistive technology. While utilizing technology to aid those with special needs is not a new concept (think wheelchairs and hearing aids), recent advances have far surpassed the technology of the past. Technology is changing lives and allowing those with special needs achieve independence and equality.
Apple’s Accessibility Video Series
Apple recently released a powerful video series documenting the ways technology can change the lives of those with special needs, with the aim of promoting the importance of accessible technology and design. The series shares a glimpse into the lives of several individuals who face unique challenges, including the inspirational story of a previously homeless, nonverbal girl named Meera who now uses an iPad to be heard.
While astounding, stories of this nature are more common than you would think. Countless children, teens, and adults with special needs utilize accessible forms of technology every day, to gain independence and improve their lives.
Visual, Hearing, and Fine Motor Skills Enhanced With Accessible Features
Unbeknownst to many, Apple products come equipped with many accessible features including VoiceOver for the visually impaired, Mono Audio for the hearing impaired, and Switch Control for those who struggle with fine motor skills. In addition to these accessible features, the following accessible applications can help further customize technology to suit a variety of special needs.
Applications For Customizable Accessible Technology
TapTapSee is a camera application that is designed specifically for the visually impaired and blind. The app combines camera function with Apple’s VoiceOver technology and image recognition software to photograph objects and identify them aloud to users. The visually impaired can overcome the challenges they face carrying out everyday tasks such as cooking and cleaning with the revolutionary technology of TapTapSee.
Talkitt was developed to help individuals with speech and language challenges to communicate with others. The innovative application learns unique speech patterns and creates a personal speech dictionary. It then uses this dictionary to identify and translate unintelligible speech into easily understood words and phrases. Talkitt gives a voice to those who otherwise might never be heard.
The world can sometimes be a lonely place for those with special needs. It means not always being able to communicate with others. Fortunately, real-time translation technology like UNI makes it possible to communicate with those who don’t speak the same language. By utilizing a special camera that tracks hand and finger movements, UNI allows the hearing impaired or deaf to easily communicate with people who don’t understand sign language. Similarly, it’s incorporated voice recognition software translates speech-to-text to communicate the message back to a deaf or hearing-impaired person.
Technology brings so much more to the table than a simple distraction. Accessible technology can change lives and is an invaluable lifeline for those living with special needs. It’s all about how you use it — and accessible technology is undoubtedly one of the best uses of innovative technology.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.