Beyond Disabilities: The Importance of Assistive Technologies
Gather around everyone; it's story time!
Five years ago, a young girl (later named Titilope) was born in a small town in Ogun state, Nigeria.
Soon, Titilope's crying voice was hoarse, and she had difficulty breathing. The doctors diagnosed her with birth asphyxia, and she had to spend over a month in the intensive care unit (ICU).
However, the birth asphyxia struck quickly and violently, rendering her unable to move her arms, legs, or neck. Shortly after leaving the intensive care unit (ICU), she began quadriplegia rehabilitation therapy.
Today, even though Titilope has a severe motor impairment and cannot communicate or walk on her own, she excels at her private school in Ogun state by using assistive technology (AT) and communication tools to enhance her quality of life.
Like Titilope, many others in Nigeria and around the world use assisted technology to improve an area of their life.
Okay, okay. Let's hold on for just a minute.
Titilope's story may be fictional, but not the story of Avinash. Take a watch here.
Let me ask again, as I did a few weeks ago. What is your first thought when you hear "assistive technology"? Disability? A person with an inability to cope with everyday social activities?
True, assisted technology helps people living with disability have better lives, but it goes beyond that. At some point in our lives, we will all age and become grandpas and grandmas. Many of us will struggle to stand upright or eat the foods we used to eat. In addition, life could happen to us at any point in time. For example, we may be involved in accidents that could hinder us from engaging in activities as we usually would.
This is what assisted technology is trying to change. If there is any better time to change our mindset about disabilities, that time is now. Because the fact remains that at some point, we (or someone we know) will require the use of technology to help us interact with the world better.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 2 billion people will need at least one assistive product by 2030 with an aging global population and a rise in noncommunicable diseases.
Without assistive technology, Titilope, Avinash, and others like her are often marginalized and left to squander away in poverty, putting them at a greater risk of burdening a person, their family, and society.
Beyond all forms of bias and prejudice, the role of assistive technology cannot be overemphasized.
Assistive technology allows the aging population to live a healthy, productive, and independent lifestyle.
Assistive technology allows people with mental health issues like dementia to live meaningful lives and even participate in education.
People who are incapacitated (from accidents) can recover faster and cope better with the help of assistive technologies.
People with noncommunicable diseases like a stroke can use assistive technology to contribute to the labor force.
People born with varying degrees of disabilities would no longer be disenfranchised from living a normal social life because of the power of assistive technologies.
I can go on and on. The benefits are endless.
Overall, assistive technology reduces the burden on health and support services, driving a Nation's development and reducing its social services expenditure.
There is a need to have better conversations about assistive technologies, which is why I have been unable to hide my excitement, knowing that Deep Knowledge Group, through its subsidiaries Aging Analytics Limited and Deep Knowledge Philanthropy, is hosting a one-of-a-kind Assistive Tech event at the UK House of Parliament next month.
I mean, WOW!
Little by little, brick by brick, we are building a better world that will drive social inclusion for everyone, and by everyone, I mean everyone.
In the meantime, we encourage you to be kind enough to improve the world by helping someone in need of your assistance!