For my one hundredth blog post, I decided to write about the reasons I chose for studying assistive technology in college. It’s definitely a more uncommon field to study, and I am frequently explaining to people what exactly assistive technology is. Once they understand what it is, it’s easy to see how commonplace assistive technology is in society- common examples include wheelchairs, magnifying glasses, text-to-speech, high tech devices, and more. Here are ten of the reasons I decided to study assistive technology.
I have always been interested in the latest gadgets
I was one of the first people to purchase a Nook eReader when it first came out (more on that here) and got my first Android phone in 2010 (read my first ever blog post on Android here). I love playing with new technology and figuring out what it can do, and how it can be used to help others.
I spent a lot of time in nursing homes
My grandma had Alzheimer’s disease and lived in a nursing home, so my family would visit frequently. I also was part of a volunteer group that visited nursing homes at least once a month. I observed how assistive technology could help seniors, even simple things like spill guards on plates, and this made me realize that I want my future career to involve helping people.
Technology makes things possible
One of my favorite sayings is “for a lot of people, technology makes things easier, but for people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.” Without the use of technology, I would be unable to read and write using standard materials because of my print disability and dysgraphia. I have a strong appreciation for how fortunate I am to live in a time period where technology is so plentiful.
I attended an assistive technology conference
About two months after I developed my chronic illness, my parents took me to an assistive technology conference at a college several hours away, looking for resources to help me in school. I was fascinated with all of the different tools available for students with low vision, as well as other disabilities, and decided that I wanted to create similar tools, with a special focus on students with low vision.
My school encouraged me to learn all I could
I didn’t have access to many assistive technology resources as I went through school- I never even heard the term “assistive technology” until I was a freshman in high school (more about that here). Because of the lack of resources, my case managers and teachers encouraged me to come up with my own accommodations and had me figure out how to use technology to help myself. Eventually, staff members would come to me asking for advice on other students, because I had learned so much.
It affects so many people
About one in six people identify as having some type of disability. The disability community includes people of all races, ages, backgrounds, languages, etc. It’s also the only community that anyone can join in ten seconds or less- someone can become disabled in the blink of an eye. Because of this, there are so many different ways to help others through assistive technology, be it with communication devices, mobility aids, electronic devices, and so much more.
I have low vision
One of the main reasons I am so interested in the field is because I have low vision, and use this technology every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I am able to figure out what I want quickly, and am very particular about the devices I use. As a result, I only showcase products and technology on my blog that has exceeded my rigorous standards.
Accessibility intersects with so many things
Accessibility and assistive technology go beyond the digital world. It crosses over into architecture, government, nutrition, bioengineering, graphic design, environmental science, driving, media, and so much more. After all, the future should be accessible to those with disabilities.
It’s a growing field
I’m always learning something new, as new devices and research emerge. Technology alone is constantly evolving, and there are so many different ways assistive technology can be applied to different careers. I remember that when I told someone this is what I wanted to study, they were a bit surprised, as a lot of students don’t know what assistive technology is, let alone want to study it. Now that I have seen all of the amazing things this field has to offer, I can’t imagine studying anything else.
Lots of opportunities to write
I have always loved writing, and studying assistive technology has allowed me to write frequently about new products, accessibility, disability, life, and more. I knew that no matter what career I went into, I would want it to involve writing, and this blog has given me the opportunity to not only write, but to share my love of assistive technology with others. Thank you, dear readers, for following this blog, leaving comments, sharing on Pinterest, and so much more. I have many exciting posts planned for the coming months, and can’t wait to share them with you!