Tech for the disabled – Technology News

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there are an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide who “experience significant disability,” which is a staggering 16% of the global population. According to the Government of India figures, 2.68 crore Indians are disabled. It is a known fact that persons with a disability (PWDs) face heightened discrimination and hardships, whether it is movement, access to resources, some as basic as education. There is a glaring gap along with pressing issues, but technology here is playing a small yet crucial role to aid persons with disability lead an easier life.
And on the International Day of Disabled Persons, which is observed on December 3 every year, let us look at a few ways that technology is aiding persons with a disability in its own way:

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For greater mobility

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NeoMotion is an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras-incubated startup that offers solutions for wheelchairs to travel longer distances. It does that with an add-on mobility device that attaches externally to a manual wheelchair, converting it into an outdoor mobility device.

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It has two elements. The NeoFly is a custom-made wheelchair, which is made after a clinical assessment of the person, to provide correct posture and fitting. Then there is the NeoBolt, which is the clip-on device that allows the wheelchair to be converted into a scooter of-sorts that can be driven on roads, offering greater movement to the mobility disabled.

Giving a shout out to NeoMotion, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal said in a post on X in August that the company has over 160 differently-abled delivery agents who deliver orders on special vehicles.

“Proud to mention that @zomato is now 160+ differently-abled delivery partners strong who have delivered ~39,000 orders. Our target – onboard 300 partners by Dec ’23. Sharing
images from our recent onboarding drive in Chennai. Shoutout to @neomotionlive and @HIDGlobal,”
he wrote.

Last year, MOBIS, the global auto components major, also partnered with NeoMotion to provide personalised motorised wheelchairs to 500 people. MOBIS undertook this project under its CSR initiative.

For the hearing impaired

The simple act of communicating with others can be a challenge for the hearing and speech impaired. This can have a major impact on education, employment opportunities and the overall quality of life.

BleeTech is an Indian startup, which “offers design and technology based solutions for the deaf community. One of their products is the BleeTV Library, which allows deaf children access to a plethora of information in the Indian Sign Language (ISL). Then there are BleeBooks that have “stories and activities for deaf kids”.

BleeTech is an Indian startup, which “offers design and technology based solutions for the deaf community.

Also, there are several apps catering to the deaf community, such as Ava. A transcription application, it transcribes live the words of a group of people. For this, each person in the group has to install the app, and with the use of a microphone, the conversation is transcribed. Ava can be really helpful for the hearing impaired or those with partial hearing, who otherwise would have to depend on lip learning, or other means, to follow the conversation.

For tremors

Tremors can make the simple act of holding a spoon and eating extremely difficult for those with Parkinson’s disease. Hence, in 2013, Lift Labs, a US-based company founded by University of Michigan PhD student Anupam Pathak, came up with spoons that are designed to counteract the tremors. It does it by first detecting the tremors with an accelerometer, and then responding with an actuator.

Google acquired the company in 2014 and released its own spoons the same year.

Making Braille accessible

A company that is making learning Braille accessible is Thinkerbell Labs with its flagship product Annie, a self learning Braille literacy device that ” teaches a child how to read, write and type in Braille”. It consists of ” tactile hardware modules tailored to teach, coupled with a soft human voice guiding students through lessons eliminates the need for handholding and constant supervision,” the company says. “Annie evaluates answers given by the students instantly and gives smart corrective feedback,” it adds.
Not only that, technology has also revolutionised what a simple watch can do. However, it still isn’t inclusive enough, especially for those blind.

Enter —Dot, a Braille smartwatch for those with blindness. It allows one to access all the smartphone features with a simple act of touch, with braille. It can also be connected to the smartphone, and one can check the person who has called. It is also equipped with other smartphone features that one can access with Braille.

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