Multi-apps on Smart-phones Increase the Confidence and Independence of People with Disabilities
By John M. Williams
Thirty years ago, when President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, I thought, this Act (law) will have other benefits, especially in the assistive Technology Area. Since The ADA became law, businesses have become more aware of the daily trials and tribulations that disabled people are challenged by daily.
In 30 years assistive technology, Smartphones, have increased independence and confidence for people with disabilities. Smartphones that people with disabilities can control a cursor with only slight head movements. T he ADA has prompted researchers and engineers to consider the needs of persons with disabilities as they develop new products and services
What kind of advances are we talking about?
People with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, muscular dystrophy, severe arthritis and other conditions can now make unassisted phone calls, check email, play Angry Birds and just about anything else a typical Smartphone addict does daily. All they need to do is say "Open Sesame" to turn the phone on, and then look at the phone's screen so its camera can capture slight left and right head movements.
According to Peter Wilderotter, president and CEO of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, "Smarter devices that can be activated by voice, vision or slight movement have the potential of transforming many lives, increasing independence, access and communication.”
“My Smartphone has made it easier for me to stay connected with my firmly and reconnect with them on my travels,” says defense attorney Jason Garr, Springfield. IL
"Other tech trends that will benefit individuals living with disabilities include the connected home -- or smart home. As an emerging innovation, there are a number of players at the table from Verizon to AT&T (T), Samsung, GE (GE) and even Google (GOOG)," Wilderotter said.
Tommy Middleton is a paraplegic. He lives in a smart home near Baltimore, MD. Using his Smartphone Middleton controls all the appliances in his house and garage. He even controls his mobile robot, Swiftly. Middleton says, “Telecommunication technology has changed attitude about my disability, my work and family.”
Easing Visual Impairments
Voice-activated systems like Google Home and Amazon Echo continue to grow in popularity. In fact, today’s Smartphones come equipped with enhanced voice command technology that can help people with disabilities better navigate to and from just about anywhere. For example, the ease of simply speaking commands to get directions to a nearby business or doctor’s office is just one way to receive information within mere seconds — without the need to punch in information on a keypad.
Beyond that, the vision accessibility features on the Samsung Galaxy S7 also use voice command technology to make the user experience that much better for the vision-impaired. In particular, the Smartphone relies on its physical features (the camera light), along with audio detection and vibration alerts, I n order for users to never miss a message, alert or alarm.
t’s not always possible for the disabled to determine who’s calling them without the assistance of haptic technology. But by recreating the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations or motions to the user, using these technological wonders can then become an essential tool to carry out everyday tasks.
Providing More Autonomy
People experiencing paralysis or other mobility issues can often still get around with some assistance, but don’t always have the independence and autonomy they desire. Of course, smartphones featuring voice command technology can help in this arena. Still, carrying out essential tactile functions can pose issues for those who may not be able to physically hold them. That’s where devices like the Sesame smartphone can provide enormous benefits.
In fact, the world’s first completely touch-free smartphone, designed by and for people with disabilities, features a camera that can track users’ head movements to carry out essential, everyday functions and tasks. Additionally, the smartphone’s on-screen cursor that’s controlled by the user’s head movements recognizes even the most minimal of movements, allowing disabled users to activate apps, voice mail and other functions without actually touching it.
Reducing the Cost of Living
Tools that provided convenience weren’t always around. Before smartphones came equipped with accessibility options, people with disabilities relied on multiple — and oftentimes expensive — devices to go about their day. A separate GPS device, voice-activated note taker, bar scanner and other devices were often required to carry out essential daily living tasks.
Today, however, smartphones come equipped with all the necessary features for the vision-, hearing- and mobility-impaired, providing them with greater independence, while reducing the need to splurge on other expensive, third-party gadgets.
Sheila Benton is deaf. She is a special education teacher in Dade County, FL. She uses her iPhone communicate to her family and hearing friends. She says, “The voice recognition feature and the sign language app make it easier to communicate to my family and to teach. A brand new world opened up for me when bought my iPad.”
Streamlining day-to-day tasks and routines Permit iPhone users to go about their day with greater ease. Of course, people with disabilities don’t always have that option. But those who do need an extra helping hand can turn to tools like iPrompts, which provides visual-prompting tools to help users transition between activities and focus on tasks.
John M. Williams is a frequent contributor to Independence Today. He can be reached at email@example.com.