Over the past twenty-five years people have seen the advent of technology–everything from computers that speak to people who are blind, lifts on vans and automatic door openers for people who use wheeled mobility, and other devices that simplify life for people with disabilities and elders. They may not know that these devices/aids are called “assistive technology” or AT. Simply put, AT are products and systems that expand the capabilities for those with functional limitations.
It is interesting to note is that many of these products designed for people with limitations offer benefits to the public at large. Who with a stroller or bicycle hasn’t benefited from a curb cut designed for a person using a wheelchair? Or a person with a grocery or luggage cart using a ramp? Even software designed for people with no use of their hands, who use their voice to activate a computer, is now commercially available to the busy executive, student or grandma. This approach to modeling and design of products, policies and environments that are simple and accessible to the broadest possible range of people is known as universal design (UD).
With more than 34% of the population over the age of 65 in Massachusetts identified as having a disability, 5.9% between the ages of 5-17 with a disability, and 8.9% of those between 18-64 with a disability, the need to adopt universal design and assistive technology within local communities across the Commonwealth is upon us.
For this reason, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is hosting an expo and conference on “Products & Technologies that Change People’s Lives: Universal Design and Assistive Technology in Massachusetts” on September 23rd at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston. The event is being convened by the Institute for Human Centered Design. For more information and to register go to www.ChangePeoplesLives.org and follow the event on twitter@Change_Lives and Facebook at www.facebook.com/changepeopleslives.
Come join us for a day of thought-provoking discussion, to share your vision, and to access information about products that will change your life.