Assistive Technology Is Your New Best Friend

Remember when Living Like You shared how Chris Armistead and Keith Askin talked about using accessible technology to remain successful in their career? Here’s some additional insight into why it could be useful outside the workforce, especially for people dealing with multiple sclerosis. As a refresher, assistive technology is any hardware, software, or a combination of tools that enables those with various impairments to stay productive. These tools empower people with a variety of disabilities to be more independent and productive.

Being my stubborn self, I could not fathom using new technology for multiple reasons, especially because of my already poor eyesight. I was unwilling to try any form of assistive reading technology because I didn’t want to show I needed help or have it appear I was losing my independence.

However, I put my fears aside when I realized how liberating using assistive technology can be. I bought a tablet and started downloading books on it right away. It suddenly hit me that reading books digitally and being able to annotate and highlight felt like winning the lottery.

Assistive technologies (ATs) are not just electronic or digital tools. Disabled-world.com estimates that more than 4000 ATs have been designed for people with disabilities and elderly people, and range from wheelchairs to high-end and high-tech tools. More and more companies and businesses see the advantage of R&D into ATs. For example, accessibility has become a critical mission for Microsoft with its commitment to providing tools and products that will help deliver great experiences to people with disabilities

One of the new things I’ve found to be particularly helpful in Microsoft Office 2016, is using Narrator to read, write and format messages, even complex ones. There are also several other new helpful tools which can be found here.

Google has also applied itself to helping people with disabilities. For example, Google Accessibility lists the many ways to make your Android OS, Chrome Browser, Chrome Operating System, and your Gmail account easier to use.

Apps are another form of assistive technology that can make life easier for those living with MS. For instance, PT Momentum allows physical therapists to share personalised exercise programs with clients on their mobile devices. The app provides clear instructions, demos and allows users to set daily reminders and monitor their progress.

From experience, it can take some time to warm up to using assistive technology, but it is nothing to be ashamed of! Asking for help and using tools and resources that allow you to maintain your independence is encouraged good thing. Find the technology that works for you and embrace it. Accessible and assistive technology is here to stay, so you may as well start using it.

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