THROUGH WINDOWS IN THE SKY – From the Editor’s Desktop
Technology can come to the aid of the disabled, including the aged, who undergo similar difficulties as the disabled in many respects. Computers and other information and communication technologies [ICTs] can make life a lot easier for many of us.
Some of the adaptive technology available for disabled people are improved computer displays, screen readers, Braille displays, voice input systems and browser developments. In an article in IEEE Spectrum, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Bruce Alexander, president, Alexander Associates (North Attleborough, MA), a web-based marketing company, says: “Adaptation for users with disabilities should be planned when a Web page, computer device or software program is in the design stage.”
Obviously, not everybody can do this and not many even consider the idea as the disabled are not the primary target of most mainstream web pages and computer devices. However, computers linked to the Internet have made a world of difference to how the disabled, their families and carers have been able to cope with their special difficulties and dilemmas.
In this issue of DEEP, we bring you a random selection of links from across the World Wide Web. Some of these links are to active sites, in which the world community can participate; some others are to links that continue to be available, though the communities they cater to seem to have dwindled; some others are to sites that are no longer being updated. The idea is to see how the web has been creatively used by so many to help out, come together, discuss and draw us out from isolation. The idea is also to provoke some of DEEP’s readers to revive the defunct mechanisms and begin new ones because by supporting each other we can only grow in strength.
As always, do write in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment right here.
SANGHAMITRA SEPTEMBER 2008 [VOL.1 ISSUE 6]
THE DISABLED PHOTOGRAPHERS’ SOCIETY
The DPS was begun in the 1960s, when an engineer named Harry Wells decided to try and adapt a Konica C35 camera for use by the disabled. It has, since, been continuously engaged in helping the disabled take up and enjoy photography. You can read all about them and, perhaps, join them at: http://www.disabledphotographers.co.uk
GETTING FAMILIES IN TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER
For a quarter of a century, Contact a Family has been putting families with disabled children in touch with each other. MakingContact.org [http://www.makingcontact.org/], helps people who are affected by the same or similar disabilities get in touch with each other through its website. It lists hundreds of medical conditions that you can browse to find ones similar to your own and click on it to find out if there are any registered persons with similar disabilities. The registration and exchange of mail through the site are free-of-charge services.
DETAILED INFORMATION ON DISABLED-FRIENDLY ORGANIZATIONS IN U.K.
DisabledGo is an internet service that provides information for people with hearing, vision or mobility impairments about access to shops and services. http://www.disabledgo.info, has a constantly updated database on pubs, restaurants, leisure venues and other outlets that the disabled may want to go to, but are wary of approaching due to their concerns about accessibility issues.
It is an extraordinarily in-depth disabled access information guide, prepared by trained professionals after on-the spot visits. The information is designed to empower disabled people to make informed decisions as to the suitability of a particular venue for their special access requirements so that “journeys are not wasted and evenings are not ruined.”
ONLINE SELF-HELP SOURCEBOOK
The Self-Help Sourcebook Online [http://www.mentalhelp.net/selfhelp/] is a searchable database that includes information on over 1,100+ national, international and demonstrational model self-help support groups, ideas for starting groups, and opportunities to link with others to develop needed new national or international groups.
ONLINE HELP FOR THOSE WHO CARE FOR THE AGED
There is a Sanskrit saying that goes “It is difficult for the diseased to bear the pain; it is even more difficult to be dependent on another; but most difficult of all is to care for the diseased and dependent.” It is a blessing that our parents and grandparents live much longer, and more independently, than their parents and grandparents probably did. But it is no easy task for the younger generation to balance careers and homes and care for the elderly as well as they can and should.
In The New Old Age, [http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/], a New York Times blog, Jane Gross “explores this unprecedented intergenerational challenge and shares the stories of readers, the advice of professionals, and the wisdom gleaned from her own experience caring for her late mother in her waning years.”
The blog also provides links to resources on the web that provide information about caregiving, housing and services, other bloggers and magazines talking about the same or similar issues.