Possibly one of the greatest ironies concerning technology and people with disabilities is that recent advancements that have the capability to provide greater independence and quality of life are often not designed to be accessible to people who could benefit the most.
While barriers to access are many, the efforts of researchers, engineers, advocates and innovators are contributing to making ICTs accessible. Some of these technologies will allow interaction with the physical environment, objects and other people to provide a new way to see through the ears, hear through the eyes, and manage the daily activities of work and leisure.
The US Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) has 24 centers across the United States that illustrates the range of disability research and development of ICTs.
Several of them including the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC) work with consumers to understand user needs, develop and test prototype technology and examine accessibility policy issues related to information communications technologies (ICT).
In September 2009, the international community came together for a Wireless Emergency Communications State of Technology Conference to examine the potential for wireless communications technology to assist people with disabilities before, during and after a natural or manmade disaster. For more on the conference visit, http://sot.wirelessrerc.org/.
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies