Assistive Technology


Life Quest Training and Consult

Dr. Nanette Bowles

Assistive Technology

By Dr. Nanette Bowles

Do you remember life before text messaging?  Years ago, before texting became so popular, a co-worker of mine got this cool device called a Sidekick.  She was Deaf and this allowed her to send messages back and forth to others.  Over the years, these and other devices have made text messaging a way of life for many and have made communication much easier for those who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Another friend of mine showed me his new iPhone but I couldn’t see anything on the screen! He tapped various parts of the black screen and the device spoke commands back to him until screen display came up for me to see.  This friend is blind and doesn’t need to visually see the screen of this device.  Keeping it off saves battery power and, with speech output that’s built into the device, he can still do web searches, look up contact information, and so many of the other applications many of us enjoy.

Yet another friend of mine does almost anything and everything with his voice and mouth.  He completely controls his wheelchair by manipulating a small device, which looks like joystick, with his mouth.  He makes and receives calls using voice commands.  He types of the computer using speech recognition and clicks on areas of the screen, the way we use a mouse, using his voice and technology that is now built into many of our computers.

I’m thankful for these amazing friends and technology that allows them and so many others to enjoy the world and so much that it has to offer.  To learn more about these and so many other types of assistive technology, here are some links:

Disability.gov Assistive Technology –http://www.disability.gov/technology/Assistive_Technology

Microsoft Ease of Access Center – http://www.microsoft.com/enable/training/windowsvista/eoa.aspx

University of Wisconsin-Madison TRACE CENTER –