Nearly 1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, live with disabilities and face various challenges daily—assistive technology is a great help in transforming their lives. With technology powering everything, it remembers the people who need it the most. Things became unexpectedly complicated amid the pandemic and chaos, making disabled people look forward to receiving virtual assistance like everyone else. They can now do previously impossible things to do on their own.
They can live a free and better quality of life with the help of assistive technology. AI-powered cane navigating blind people away from hazards-assistive technology (AT) has transformed the lives of people suffering from a wide range of disabilities, from smart glasses to automated electric wheelchair users.
What does assistive technology (AT) entail?
Assistive technology (AT) is any technological item, device, software, product system, or piece of equipment that people with disabilities use. Such technology aims to improve a disabled person’s functionality, capability, and work performance. These assistive technology tools can help people with special needs communicate more effectively, learn more effectively, and perform any function more efficiently. From low-tech items like walking sticks to high-tech solutions like software, the tools can be anything.
This article will explain how assistive technology has transformed people’s lives who have been left behind by normal people. Some examples include special keyboards with larger buttons for people with limited hand movement. A text-to-speech software that reads the text for visually impaired or blind people is also available.
Furthermore, people with speech difficulties can use a device/or mobile app that reads the text commands typed into the keyboard out loud. More examples of assistive technology will be discussed further in this blog.
Assistive technology is working to develop smart keyboards with smart finger sensors. Although several customized keyboards are designed for people with various types of impairments, some keyboards have higher keys than normal keys to help people find the keys more easily. The raised keys aid in the avoidance of keystrokes and typos. Braille keyboards resemble keyboards for people with visual impairments. They understand the importance of comfort, speed, and accuracy while avoiding strain.
Regarding information accessibility and the virtual world, assistive technology is doing wonders. Text-to-speech software assists people with a variety of disabilities. AI-powered text-to-speech tools with a plethora of flexible tone, speed, and audio conversion options in multiple languages. One click will get you the most human-like audio conversion of your favorite text. It takes minimal effort from users to listen to the book of their choice, magazine, blog, or audio tour an online store-everything is within reach of a single click.
Computers with a single button
Using modern technology can be extremely difficult for disabled people and other senior citizens. As a result, No Isolation, a Norwegian startup, launched the project intending to make modern technology accessible to people who have never had exposure to the digital experience. The one-button computers were designed by assistive technology to be installed in the homes of disabled and senior citizens so that they could contact friends and family by pressing a single button. It is intended to serve as both an entertainment and a communication app. Users can view calls, messages, and video calls by switching the device and seeing what their loved ones have sent them on a large non-touch display.
Daily tasks can be difficult for people with mobility impairments and other disabilities. Thanks to Amazon Echo’s assistive technology, they can perform multiple tasks simply by speaking. The users can use a voice assistant already built into their device to call people, send texts, update their schedules, create to-do lists, set alarms, get news, play music, and weather updates, make online purchases, control their smart devices, and a lot more. Amazon Echo is becoming more powerful by the day. Its fourth generation has arrived, with more powerful systems and a spherical design.
AI-powered smart cane
Millions rely on visual impairment tools such as white canes to live independently. Smart canes are being transformed into more intelligent and life-changing tools thanks to advances in assistive technology. The built-in speech assistant can begin accepting commands for a variety of functions. For example, high-tech handles and smart sensors that detect and alert users to roadblocks, obstructions, and hindrances on streets, roads, and parks. Not only that, but users can connect their smart canes to their smart devices to find different locations and receive public transportation information.
Smartwatches for the visually impaired
Braille smartwatches have joined braille books and keyboards in serving people with visual impairments. It assists them in reading the time in braille. Because connectivity is everything, braille smartwatches are increasingly linked to smart devices to receive messages, calls, and notifications. Next-generation braille smartwatches will have a longer battery life of up to 7 days, a braille dictionary, alarms, alerts, reminders, timers, and other smart functionalities.
Listening in real time
People with visual impairment can benefit greatly from live podcasts, broadcasts, and audio shows. Apple Live Listen is an assistive tool for people with visual impairments that promises premium sound quality at the touch of a button on Airpods, Powerbeats Pro, iPads, and iPhones. Apple assures that this solution will assist people with hard-of-hearing and quality-oriented sound in listening to room conversations. To use this feature, the user must first add it to the Control Centre. Then, by tapping the ear symbol, they will be taken to Live Listen, where they can place their phone close to the person speaking.
The combination of AI and ML created smart glasses that can navigate using only head movements. These smart glasses help electric wheelchair users control and operate their wheelchairs. The procedure is standard, and it entails connecting your smart devices to glasses to receive alarms, messages, calls, and notifications. The glasses’ smart sensors recognize head gestures and control the wheelchair accordingly. Furthermore, the user can access the navigation menu and controls through their right eyeglass frame. The built-in camera allows users to take photos, share them, adjust seat positions, and send emergency messages.
Open Character Recognition (OCR) software
OCR automatically detects and converts letters scanned by a scanner into text. They can easily customize the text size, color, and background. It’s an innovative tool for making printed information more accessible. It is highly beneficial to people with low vision and visual impairment.
Smartphones for the elderly
For those who are unfamiliar with technology, modern smartphones are complex. Tech companies have designed smartphones for seniors. The specifications and features are designed to reduce human effort by utilizing smart sensors, voice assistance, button assistants, and fingerprint sensors. The device has Android 9.0, a 5.7-inch display, a fingerprint sensor, a GPS-based emergency assistance button, 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras, a premium aluminum design, a built-in voice assistant, a headphone jack, a USB port, and other features.
Assistive technology tools are not famous but are the most important for helping people with special needs. Making the virtual world accessible to these people becomes more important as online learning becomes equally accessible.
Assistive technology is transforming the lives of millions of people by moving away from scarcity and towards cutting-edge solutions. The National Education Association (NEA) estimates that an additional 30% of students are admitted to special education programs in the US every ten years. Furthermore, according to NEA reports, even in general classrooms, one child out of every three has limitations or a disability. Assistive technology has been at the forefront of overcoming the limitations that disabled people face. As a result, perfectly imperfect people can live efficiently.