Any sufficiently advanced technology is equal to magic.
Technological development often causes many people to wonder what effect these genius inventions can have on humanity. While some believe technology to be a major evil and steadily degrade our civilization, others see it as a means of helping those in need overcome some of their most complicated problems. Contrary to chasing personal gains, businesses are coming up with ideas to help people with disabilities. There have been some incredible inventions that have made their lives significantly more manageable.
Sidewalks for the Blind
Many countries have resorted to tactile paving on roads to show signs of hazards, pedestrian crossings, guidance, etc. This is achieved by raising the pavement and carving certain textures into it to help the blind. Developed by Seiichi Miyake in 1965, it was first seen in Okayama, Japan, and is rapidly spreading throughout the world.
Accessibility Structures in Public Places
- Wheelchair accessible playground carousels are available in parks for children in wheelchairs.
- Park ramps ease travel in a wheelchair by offering a diagonal ramp instead of stairs.
- Elevator switches are lowered to a convenient, easy-to-reach height for those in a mobility scooter or wheelchair.
- Many supermarkets are providing motorized shopping carts with navigational control for people with physical disabilities. They usually have an average speed of 5 miles per hour and are equipped with a basket and a seat.
Special Equipment for People with Low Vision
- Small, specifically shaped bumps on a trail or road’s surface are felt on the soles of the feet to allow a person with low vision to pick up directional cues while walking.
- Wheelchairs come in various sizes and offer different sets of functionalities, such as rough terrain traveling. Some also allow the patients to strap themselves to the chair’s surface in an upright position, allowing them to stand. Dr. Ted Rummel uses one such example. Even though he is paralyzed from the waist down, he can stand and perform surgeries, thanks to his mobility chair. These are also available for rent on some beaches.
- Braille Edition UNO cards are printed with braille scripts to help people identify them. Not only is this a fun activity, but it can also assist in teaching braille literacy.
City Models for the Blind
Mini-sculptures in front of famous monuments help people experience the essence of its beauty by touching it. Advancements in the 3-D printing industry have enabled the manufacturing of these models to become relatively affordable and standard, opening a whole new window for people with low vision. The sculptures come with braille inscriptions on the bottom that help people orient themselves and notice details that they could have otherwise missed.
Vehicles for People with Diverse Abilities
Companies like Honda, General Motors, Ford, etc., are providing vehicles that are customizable to the needs of people with disabilities. They can be installed with wheelchair lifts and ramps to make getting in and out easy. With self-driving cars becoming a reality due to Elon Musk, the transport sector is hugely benefiting people with disabilities. There are some excellent options: Ford E series full-sized vans, Tesla Model X, and Dodge Grand Caravan.
With the ability to pair a vehicle with a mobile device, one can even control their vehicle from a distance and summon it to their location without any difficulty. Some other features like changing destination, self-fueling, changing temperature, and traffic tracking are also available when the car is synchronized with its app.
Skincare Products with Braille
Companies like Dr. Jart, Biodermna, and Whamisa are making the packaging of beauty products identifiable by touch. Although the production cost is high, 1.3 billion people have some vision impairment level, and 39 million are blind. Making specialized products in this niche has become vital.
Tilted Mirrors for People with Disabilities
For those in a wheelchair, viewing themselves in a mirror may become a tedious task. There is a special mirror that has an inverted trapezoidal design tilted toward the front, providing a wider view from a lower height. Usually, the tilting angle is around 12 degrees but can also be adjusted to the individual’s needs. These mirrors cost $40-$60 in the U.S.
A Rubik’s Cube for the Blind
Each set of nine squares is now marked with a particular shape allowing people to solve the puzzle using their sense of touch. It was invented by a grad student at the University of Massachusetts. Features such as textures, shapes, and weight play a vital role in the life of a person with low vision. This was the principle behind the making of this cube.
Kettle for People with Arthritis
These kettles are ergonomically designed to help the hot water go down without lifting the cradle. It also helps those who live with Parkinson’s. It comes with handy features such as :
- Water level indicator
- Power light
- Non-slip base
- Quiet boiling
- Ergonomic handle for comfortable use
It is priced around $65-90 on websites such as Amazon and Uccello.
Color Blind Viewer
These come in the form of glasses and scopes with a tinted lens enabling the person with color blindness to see colors accurately.
They are designed differently for each person’s eyes and also come in the form of contact lenses. It is important to note that such devices do not cure color blindness but allow a more comprehensive array of wavelengths to travel into the eyes, providing more crisp vision.
Although the effect of technology on human culture is virtually impossible to quantify, it has undoubtedly helped promote a better quality of life for many people. However, it also can have catastrophic effects when misused. Developers need to be very careful while making a new product for the masses.