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Technology

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Everyday Tasks Made Easier
With Accessible Technology
By Patricia Kennedy, RN, CNP

(Page 1 of 3)

What if vision challenges made it impossible for you to read a computer screen? Or limited dexterity left you unable to type? For many people living with chronic illnesses and disabilities, these questions are in fact realities. Symptoms such as vision impairments, cognitive challenges, and dexterity limitations can make the use of technology difficult and at times seemingly impossible.

In today’s fast-paced, digital environment, the inability to capitalize on technology can be stifling – people rely on these tools to conduct business, interact with family and friends, and manage their health. While by many accounts those with chronic diseases and disabilities stand to benefit significantly from new technology, many are unaware of how to use it to their advantage.

Accessible Technology

Janet Tipton has been a teacher for 24 years. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) six years ago, Janet relies on technology to remain employed. MS-related fatigue makes it impossible for Janet to stand at the front of her classroom and write on the board. Instead, Tipton uses accessible technology that allows her to write on an electronic blackboard, demonstrate three dimensional objects, and highlight important text or Web pages, all from her seat at the front of the room.

“I would be exhausted if I had to get up and write on the board, or walk around the classroom to show my students something,” said Tipton. “Without these technologies, I wouldn’t be able to do my job.”

The technology used by Janet is just one type of what is known as “accessible technology.” These technologies include any piece of equipment or system that increases, maintains, or improves functional capabilities of individuals who have physical or cognitive difficulties, impairments or disabilities.

Not all accessible technologies are as complex as what Tipton uses. Some accessible technology features, such as options on your computer that allow you to change font size and color for better visibility, are already built into most operating systems. These simple adjustments to your computer don’t cost anything and will make the computer easier to see and use.

For people with disabilities requiring more advanced assistance, accessible technology products such as screen readers, alternative keyboards, and voice recognition software create opportunities to connect with friends and maintain employment that otherwise may not be possible.

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