September 30, 2008
Computers Assisting the Disabled
There are so many influential people with disabilities who have contributed to making our world less mysterious and better cultured. Think about Beethoven, Helen Keller, Charles Mingus, and Stephen Hawking. Some of these people had assistance of computer science and technology, while others had none. Imagine what some of our best minds would have been able to achieve if they had the means to function without any obstacles. Luckily, we live in times where computers have enabled the disabled to contribute just as much as anyone else.
One type of development for assisting the disabled is the various types of software created for special needs. For the print disabled, there is a digital type of audio books that will fit on one CD-ROM, otherw [ (Data Conversion Laboratory) ]ise known as DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem [ (Data Conversion Laboratory, 2002) ]). DAISY allows print disabled people to navigate books as efficiently as it would for a person using a standard computer. Before the invention of DAISY, the only options for the print disabled were to go through 30 or so hours of taped books and fast-forwarding or rewinding to important information, or find someone to assist them in navigating. [ (Microsoft, 2008) ]. The addition of DAISY into libraries “has made it easy and cost-effective libraries to essentially level the information playing field for people with disabilities and do things they never before could have imagined.”
Another breakthrough for the disabled was the development of Words+ software, Conversa™. [ (Reuters, 2008) ]. Words+ has been around since 1981 and was initially developed to help a family member communicate after the advanced stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Conversa is an augmentative communication system with state-of-the-art digital touch screen for communication. When combined with Say-it SAM software,...