People With Disabilities
As we approach the 21st century, there are noticeable advancements in technology
that is making communication much easier for the people of the world. The people
who are now achieving more due to this technology are those with disabilities.

The new wave of electronics is coming in the form of assistive technology.

Assistive technology is a device or process that helps a person with a
disability to do something that could otherwise be difficult or impossible to
accomplish. By implementing appliances into people\'s lives who are unable to
communicate without aid, a new door is being opened for the disabled. With the
use of alternate access aids, hearing aids, and alternative communication
devices, just to name a few, a newfound dignity is being realized by people who
otherwise would not be able to communicate on a regular basis. In this essay, I
will address new technologies for people who are disadvantaged in the
communication field and how these devices are adding not only to their lives,
but to the communication process as a whole. The more quickly the world can
become compatible for people who are incapable of customary communication, the
more quickly the walls that stand in the way of communication will be scaled.

Once this is achieved, it will pave the way for a world where communication is
available to all people and no longer will being disabled put you at a
disability. Technology has taken a giant leap in the right direction with the
invention of new devices that can be used to help people who are disabled to be
able to communicate more effectively. Inventions such as the
"Liberator", hearing aids, augmentative and alternative access aids,
and so on, have made great improvements to the amount of communication that
people with disabilities can become involved in. These assistive technologies
are, in some cases, the only means of communication a disabled person has. A new
device that I feel is notable and very beneficial to disadvantaged people is
that of the Voice Output Communication Aid (VOCA). This aid produces synthesized
speech that can be readily understood by the general public and therefore
improving interactions with speaking individuals. In one study, it was noted
that the VOCA improved communication in a person who has profound mental
retardation from 21% to 86%. A follow up of the patient after a month of using
the VOCA produced that she used her VOCA for 75% of her communicative behavior.
(Schepis & Reid, 1995, p.75.) Another device that has been used is one that
has the similar use of a telephone. These "future telephones" or
information appliances "accommodate the choice of either visual mode
(typing) or auditory mode (speaking), thus direct communication can be achieved
and communicating parties no longer are handicapped by single-modality services
that are not compatible." (Brummel, 1994) These phones help people who have
never before had the chance to use a telephone or who have never been able
address another person in a regular fashion. Another method that is soon
anticipated is a visual communication appliance. This satisfies a range of needs
from sign language transmission to handwritten note sharing as an alternative to
auditory mode for conversations. (Brummel, 1994) As these technologies keep
becoming mainstream, it seems possible that all people who have trouble with
communication otherwise will soon have an outlet that allows them the pleasure
of not being singled out due to their lack of skills when it comes to
communication. Past technologies are now very popular among the everyday person
as well as being for the disabled. For example, a hearing aid. These aids were,
from the beginning used to enhance the hearing of a person who is deaf. These
now are used for anyone who has any hearing problem, including the elderly as
they get older and their hearing becomes worse. Another such invention is that
of a wheelchair. A wheelchair makes it possible for people who cannot walk on
their own to get about allowing more interaction with others. These have become
two very widespread inventions. The most popular of all the technologies is
known as the Telecommunications Device (TDD). This carries conversation typed
into a keyboard over telephone lines and displays it on the receiving TDD. It
can also be used if the person is blind, as the letters on the keyboard have
brail and the computer can say the message out loud.(High Tech, 1989, p.50.)

This has made a very considerable impact on the deaf and blind community. They
no longer have to worry about how they will communicate with a person who is not
in the same room as