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A wide range of technologies Essay

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In this report I will describe a wide range of technologies used by John Smith. John was involved in a car accident 5 years ago where he lost the use of his legs and also injured his spinal cord. He has used a wheel chair ever since. He works as a lecturer at imperial university where he teaches science. This has been deeply traumatic towards his physical, social and working aspects of his life. I am going to find out what technologies he uses to get by in life and to decrease the hardships he faces with his disabilities and also to find out how he uses these technologies for his personal, social and working aspects of his life. John is known by all his colleagues and is very popular in his work place. He also goes out with friends in his workplace on social gatherings like clubs but this doesn’t often happen because of the trouble he has coping with his disability.

Technology 1 – Work Related

One technology that John uses for work is his eyegaze. An eyegaze is a communication and control system for people with complex disabilities it’s a response interface that tracks the eye allowing hands free computer operation. By looking at certain control keys a person can do almost anything e.g. turn his house light’s on and off, open certain doors in his house and use the internet. The eyegaze is an excellent system used by many disabled people.

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John has an eyegaze computer system attached to his wheelchair. At his university he can monitor his students and use the interactive white board in his classroom to show his students pictures or set them question for class work. His eyegaze can also connect to his printer wirelessly so that he can print out question that he has set his class for homework or revision sheets for their test.


Advantages of an eyegaze are that it allows people with complex disabilities like spinal cord paralysis to surf the net and do day-to-day tasks that would normally have been impossible in their current state of wellbeing. The eyegaze allows them to do their work and play games that they would normally have been unable to do due to the fact that they would not have been able to reach the keyboard with their disability. The eyegaze allows them to surf the net, keep in touch with others around the world and have video conferences.


The eyegaze has many disadvantages is that it’s harder to use then a normal keyboard as it track you’re eye if you make the slightest twitch it will follow and go onto what you looked at. It is very difficult to use as it will follow every move you eye make and the slightest twitch could change the page or delete the sentence you were on. It could also turn off the lights when you want them on or shut a door you want open. Eyegazes are also very expensive and if they break down it take along time to replace because only a small minority of business produce the technology also the technology needs to shipped from other countries and that takes a lot of time.

How the technology meets the

Needs of the adult in a work related environment:

To John his eyegaze is a great comfort as he needs to mark his class’s work and as he is disabled it would take along time with normal pen and paper so his students send it to him by email. He uses a special program which allows him by using his voice to mark their work and send it back to them on by one. His eyegaze allows him to do this without putting a great strain on his back whereas using a keyboard and mouse would have put a great strain on his spinal cord and caused him a great deal of pain.

His eyegaze is very useful to him in work related situations as it allows him to go throw his work and lecture note quickly without any strain or pain on his back.


Without his eyegaze John wouldn’t be able to monitor his students in class or set them work by email. Also he would have to use a normal mouse and keyboard to monitor his constant stream of emails which he receives from students, his colleagues and his doctors and this would have been a constant strain on his back and would have put him in a lot of pain. He would also be unable to automatically turn on lights or open doors as his eyegaze is connected wirelessly to his house and allows him to control his environment.

Technology 2 – Socially Related

One technology that John uses in his personal life is his electronic wheelchair which allows him to move around anywhere without the hassle of pushing the wheels. His electronic wheelchair has a portable eyegaze computer connected to his electrical wheelchair allowing him to take his work with him on the go. He uses his electrical wheelchair in a number of personally related activities. Thanks to his electrical wheelchair he can move anywhere around his house and area without straining his back by having to manually push the wheels.


Electrical wheelchairs have many advantages including because they’re battery powered there is no hassle of moving it instead you push the control stick forward and the wheels move of their own accord. This is excellent as John has spinal paralysis which means that he cannot use his back and if he had a manual wheelchair then someone else would have to push him around and John has told me that “I don’t like having people wait on me as I had difficulty coping with the realism that I cannot use my back or legs anymore”.


An electrical wheelchair has many disadvantages like: it is dependant on batteries therefore it will not work if it has no charge. Another disadvantage is that it cannot be folded and be put into the boot of a car. It is also very heavy and it can be quite a nuisance when going up the university stairs as he needs his students help as the ramps are on the other side of campus and it would take him an hour to get from his car to the back to his lecture hall. His wheelchair is also very expensive and if it breaks down it will take along time to repair.

How the technology meets the

Needs of the adult in a socially related environment:

For John his electric wheelchair is one the best pieces of technology he can use as it is fast and reliable and allows him to go everywhere without the hassle and strain of a normal manual wheelchair. It is also a great relief as his back is often in pain and thanks to the wheelchairs special cushions he can lie back and have the special in-built massagers take his backs pain away.


Without his wheelchair John would be unable to move around as efficiently as with his electric one. Also it would have put increased constant strain on his spinal cord and put him in a great deal of pain. He would be unable to take his work with him on the go as there would be no battery to connect the wires to. Without his electric wheelchair it would take him longer to go shopping or go anywhere else.

Technology 3 – Personally Related

Another piece of technology that John uses is his single fingered keyboard. The single fingered key board is a special type of keyboard which follows a new style of keyboard allowing the disabled person to be able to type on his/her computer without putting a lot of stress on themselves. Another definition for a single fingered keyboard is: The Maltron Single-handed keyboard is curved, with a single recess. It comes in left-handed and right-handed versions and is divided into four major blocks of keys:

* 1 block for the fingers

* 1 block for the thumb

* 1 flat panel of keys to the side

* 1 row of function keys along the top

The keyboard has “push-on push-off” functions for the shift, control, and alt keys. The blocks for the fingers and thumb are mirror images of one another in the left-handed and right-handed versions (whereas the flat block and function key row are identical in both).


There are a lot of advantages of a single-fingered keyboard like the fact that it doesn’t put a lot of strain on the individual using the keyboard. Another advantage is that the special shape and layout takes into account of the letters used in modern day typing. This is done to make the layout more efficient than a normal QWERTY keyboard and can save strain and unnecessary movement between keys. The user of this type of keyboard will find input than is ideal so it’s recommended that the user used a predictive word processor such as TEXTHELP or prototype to speed up entry and avoid frustration.


Some disadvantages of using a single fingered keyboard is the fact that it’s very slow and takes long time to process a sentence you wrote and even longer for a paragraph. Also because of it’s design you’re hand may be to small to reach the buttons or too big and you may press the wrong button meaning that you would have to wait until the entire word or letter or sentence appeared before being able to change it.

Needs of the adult in a personally related environment:

John enjoys writing papers and articles for various scientific magazines. Thanks to his keyboard and software that increases the speed of appearance of words he can write fast without straining his back or being frustrated at the slowness of his keyboard. This piece of technology allows him to type fast as he is a fast single fingered typer and the keyboard allows him to do this without the fear of him injuring his back further. Without this technology John feels that he cannot have the same hands on affect to his work like so many of his colleagues.


Without his technology John would have to use a Braille keyboard which in affect would have been more comfortable to use thanks to the special polymer which allows the user to type with his hands on the surface of the table but this would have injured John further as he cannot strain his back as that may prolong his recovery further.


In conclusion I feel that the technologies available to disabled people have been enhanced exponentionally as more people these day’s are concerned about the welfare of the disabled. This means that there is more awareness now than there was several years ago. The technology in our decade has also been enhanced therefore the development of newer, more practical technologies are easier to produce. The technologies in John’s life mean that he can now appreciate life and enjoy experiences like a normal, healthy person.

However there is still room for improvement in the technologies in our life today. In the future we should expect life to become much better for the disabled as there has been much more research into how our body works so their may be development in flexible devices for the disabled.

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