My Road to Independence through Technology

By Shelly Gaynor

I have always been a technology fan!

As a young child at Christmas I would always ask for technology based toys. One of my favourites was a car simulation driving game. It had a little screen and a gear stick along with the all important steering wheel.  I really enjoyed this toy as I could play it independently and this allowed me to play against my brother, nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry especially when I won quite regularly!

Car Driving Game

As the years went on my love of technology grew stronger, not least when I realized the huge benefit technology could play in my life and that of people with disabilities in general.

Assistive Technology (AT) as it’s known is  basically equipment and products which enhance and support people with disabilities in their lives

My real journey with AT started when I moved into my own apartment six years ago. The main piece of technology I use would be my Possum Primo which is an environmental control. It does as it suggests, it helps me to control my environment i.e. turn on/off my TV/DVD player, close the curtains, control the lights, etc. All very simple things to do, but very liberating I can tell you. The Possum attaches to my chair. My Possum is an extension of my arms, in fact, it’s better as I can do more with it than my arms allow me to physically do.

Possum Primo
Possum Primo

Last year I enrolled myself on the foundations course in Assistive Technology with Enable Ireland. The course gives a very good scope of the different areas of AT out there. I found it truly amazing to see how much technology exists to enhance my life! As a direct result of the course I now use Co:Writer which is a text prediction piece of software. I use the app version on my iPhone and iPad.  I’m even typed this piece using the app!

There are a lot of myths regarding Assistive Technology such as “it’s too expensive!”. Also among other disabled people there seems to be a belief that Assistive Technology only benefits those with Cerebral Palsy. Assistive Technology can be of benefit to everyone, regardless of the nature of their disability.  The real question is: where in one’s life do you need a bit of help? Is it in work, in college or at home? I believe that people with disabilities should have an AT assessment done at least once – you could well be amazed at what’s available!

I always say, don’t knock it till you try it!  Just think if people weren’t open to the idea of the World Wide Web, where would we be now!?!

I, for one, would be completely lost; irregardless of whether I was disabled or not.

For me, personally, Assistive Technology has become a key element of my day to day life. It has most definitely enhanced my ability to live my life more independently and in the way I choose, which is all good in my opinion!

You can check out my technology in action here https://youtu.be/PjtHerLMN0s

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2 comments

  1. Great post Shelly. You are a real advocate for AT. It’s really interesting that you can trace back your openness to technology to a video game as a child. Gaming has the potential to engage young people like almost nothing else. It’s a pity accessibility on mainstream games and consoles is so poor.
    Thanks,
    Karl

    Like

  2. Nice one Shelly. There are plenty of options for people to explore so the advice to have an assessment is very good. I will advise others of that. Looking forward to any other advice you may have to share. Cheers

    Like

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