Guest Post: Career Tech for Workers with Disabilities

Now more than ever, people with disabilities are making inroads in the workforce. And while there’s still a sizable gap, thanks to progress in technology, it is easier for individuals with disabilities to find careers in which they can prosper, as many companies are looking to hire remote workers in the fields of web development, information technology, graphic design, writing, and much more. Whether a disability is invisible or easily detectable, whether it was present since birth or something that developed later, there are tech-oriented tools that can assist professionals in achieving their career goals.


Assistive Technology in the Workplace

As the Assistive Technology Industry Association explains, assistive technology in the workplace can be anything that helps people with disabilities do their jobs as well and as comfortably as anyone else. For example, the use of an ergonomic keyboard is helpful for disabilities that affect the arms, wrists, or hands. They are designed to lessen stress on muscles and tendons. There are also keyboards designed to be used with one hand and even foot-controlled devices.

Those with vision or hearing limitations also have several options. Screen readers, for instance, are a form of assistive technology that can help those workers who are blind or have low-vision to use a computer. TecoReviews explains screen readers voice what is on the computer screen.  They can identify photos and read text aloud. Voice recognition software allows users with limited mobility to use voice commands to work their computers. Another type of device allows those who are deaf to communicate via the telephone.


Personal Assistive Technology to Aid in Career Development

There are plenty of assistive technology and devices people with disabilities use in everyday life that translate well to the workforce. Devices such as the UbiDuo 2 allow the hearing impaired to communicate with anyone in their presence in real-time. The OrCam MyEye is a wearable device that translates what it sees to the user's earpiece.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a type of assistive technology for autistic people. It is intended to increase social interaction, expand communication, and build independence. These are most often apps used on a smartphone or tablet.


Smartphone’s Role in Assistive Technology

The smartphone is advancing its role in the world of assistive technology. There is even a touch-free smartphone designed specifically for the disabled. As New Atlas explains, The Sesame smartphone uses voice controls and motion sensors, making it easy to use for people with limited use of their hands. It offers all the features seen in routine smartphones, but with the added accessibility many people require.

Smartphones, in general, can be a boon as well. Voice-activated assistants like Siri or Google Assistant make it easy to check email, schedule reminders, and send notes. Phone choice really does make a difference for people who need specific features, as phones offer a variety of speeds, integrations, and capabilities. Beyond that, users should sort through what features are important to their comfort and work life, and choose accordingly.

Whichever smartphone you choose, you should make sure your device is protected since cyber attacks like malware, ransomware, and phishing could all occur. Shield your device by installing the latest antivirus software, not sharing unnecessary private information, and learning how to avoid phishing schemes.

There is a place in the workforce for everyone. Today's technological advances make it possible for those with disabilities to fulfill their dreams and utilize their talents in the working world.


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