The term “physically disabled” covers a wide range of factors that can inhibit one’s ability to perform certain tasks. As time moves forward, more and more technological devices are being developed to help bridge the gap between the physically disabled and able-bodied, thus allowing these tasks to be achieved by those who previously could not. Even jobs in the technology field are being aimed at those with disabilities because they are usually done in the sitting position and do not require physical activity. In terms of physical technology that is aimed at the disabled, there seems to be two types: that which assists them in doing tasks physically and that which helps them improve their quality of life.
There are over 4,000 assistive technological devices around at this time. Many of these are designed at pinpointing a certain task in one’s life that may be difficult, and making it as easy as possible. For example, for people who enjoy reading, but have trouble handling and turning pages in a book, we now have the e-book. One can buy a book on a computer or iPad and then have the book read to them or turn digital pages. This is much easier then handling a real book. There are also programs that help one write if they have difficulty physically typing or writing. These programs listen to the way you sound your words and then write what you speak on a computer screen. This takes away the obstacle of having to physically type as long as you speech is understandable enough for the technology to recognize.
There is also another typing assistant type of program that finishes typing words for you. This cuts down on the number of keystrokes one has to make thus allowing for someone who struggles physically to type long documents. They are also able to do so with more ease and much faster. These types of programs quickly analyze the sentences and words you have typed and then produce choices of the word you are currently typing, as you type it, that the program thinks best fits the sentence. Until we figure out how to have computers read our thoughts and produce them on a screen, this seems like the next best thing.
Although technology has come a long way, in order for it to make those with a physical disability fully independent, it still has a long way to go. The biggest new technology getting close to being released is the self-driven car. This would be a huge step towards independence for those who are unable to drive as a result of their disability. Driving a car is something many people take for granted. For those of us who cannot drive, however, it can be very debilitating. This is one of many examples of how technology can vastly improve the quality of life for those with physical disabilities.