Assistive technologies past present and future - 2015
Access and Inclusion
Past , Present and Future
Lessons Learned and
David Banes – March 2016
Learning from the Past
• Where did this idea develop from
• Historically we created devices, adaptation
• From early days the development of
Accessible Technologies reached a wider
History Of Technology
• Typewriter – developed in 1808 by Pellegrino Turri so his blind friend, could write legibly.
• Telephone – developed by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 as a device to help people with
• Recorded music – developed in 1934, the Readphone reproduced literature and music on
long-playing discs to be used by the blind. Later, these discs became 33-1/3 RPM records,
• Audio Books – used by the American Foundation for the Blind in 1935.
• Speech synthesis – developed in 1936 to help deaf or hard-of-hearing people learn to speak
• Tape recorder – commissioned in 1948 for a low-cost reliable talking-book machine for the
• Speech recognition – developed in 1952 as an off-shoot of Bell’s work to ease the isolation of
• Captioning – developed in 1960 under the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
• Text Messaging – developed in 1972 by Vint Cerf, Cerf was hard-of-hearing and wanted a way
to communicate electronically with his wife and other deaf friends.
• Optical Character Recognition Technology – developed in 1975 as a way for the blind to have
access to n text.
• Picture-based keyboards – developed in 1988 to enable people who could not speak. Now
used in POS
• Loopset – released by Nokia in 1998 allowing hearing aid users to talk on digital mobile
phones. Ushered in hands-free operation of telephone.
Learning from the Past
Approaches to Inclusion and Access
The development of each was a lengthy process and it continues
“Invisible barriers, such as prohibitive cost and lack of access, acted as tangible
obstacles. In the past few decades, landmark laws and mandates have been
enacted to help overcome these obstacles to help improve the lives of people with
disabilities. Many of these were inspired by the successful civil rights legislation of the
1960’s, and the disability rights movement in the United States has motivated federal
and state legislatures to legislatively improve the lives of people with disabilities.”
As with other rights the role of advocates and self advocates was critical
Where are we today ?
• Multiple options
• Multiple platforms
• Breadth of needs
• Growth of integrated
• A fragmenting
In the past 30 years the AT field has exploded. Screen reading, screen magnification, speech
recognition, optical character recognition, augmentative and electronic communication, GPS, and
AT can be as commonplace as adapted eating utensils,, curb cuts, or glasses.
The most commonly prescribed assistive technology is optical – glasses and contact lenses.
Vision augmentation has moved beyond eyeglasses. We have contact lenses, implantable lenses
and laser surgery designed to reshape the eye in order to improve vision.
Western society has embraced enabling optical technologies to the point where they are an
Universal acceptance comes with little or no social penalty or stigma, regardless of age group.
In reality, increasingly all technology can be considered assistive in that it augments users’
capabilities to perform a given task.
Where are we today ?
• An International Convention from the UN
• National and International Standards
• Development of Services to support needs
through the technology
• Public Sector and Private Sector in partnership
Looking ahead at Technology
Challenges and opportunities
• Changing business models
• Development that Address culture and language
• Impact of Pervasiveness of mobile and portable
• Impact of Cloud based solutions and services
• From Portable to Wearable
• Transformation of data
• The advents of disruptive technologies
• Increasingly the integration of Community and
the Private sector to increase innovation
Looking ahead at the setting
Challenges and Opportunities
• Implementing the UNCRPD
• Understanding the rights
• Those rights most permeate across public policy and
organizational practice for personal benefits
• Protecting rights
• Identifying and understanding Discrimination
• Redress for individuals
• Requiring Accommodations
• Understanding responsibility at all tiers
• Monitoring and review
And the future
The future lies in Universal Design, the idea that measures taken, or
technologies created to make anything more user friendly has been
done so merely for those who are labeled disabled is outdated
Universal Design is good design and good design helps everyone.
The future of assistive technology is bright, and it seems that
increasingly the definition of assistive technology will continue to blur
as the same technologies that some use to play games will be used by
others to access email and communicate on the job.
Recent developments in assistive technology have largely involved, or
have been driven by, advancement in communications technologies,
especially those related to computer assisted technologies. Future
assistive technologies may well become possible because of
developments in human-machine interfaces that effectively create a
direct connection between the human nervous system and machines.
And the future
The future lies in disruption, the idea that measures taken, or
technologies created to make anything more user friendly has
been done so merely for those who are labeled disabled is
Disruption is innovation, it challenges our traditional
approaches, that disruption can helps everyon.
The future of enabling technology is bright, increasingly the
definition of such technology will be driven by the ability to
access data, and to present that data in a variety of formats
The status quo is littered with barriers to access and inclusion,
challenge that status quo and you have the potential to
remove such barriers
Mada – Qatar Assistive Technology Center