As someone who has promoted the Universal Design concept for decades, I was taken back by a Futurism video I saw on the Blitab braille tablet. It is billed as “The World’s First Tablet for the Blind”, but that’s not true, and it’s arguably not nearly the best either. That title, in my view, goes to the Apple iPad with all of its accessibility features, but more on that later. This short article explains my concerns with the Blitab product and the company developing it, because they don’t seem to understand their market or target user. I urge any of my blind friends to challenge me on this assertion in the comments below.
Australia’s award-winning Community Care Smart Assistive Technology Collaborative is gaining traction among community care service providers, researchers, developers and, more recently, consumers of services. [from Community Care Review]
The project is funded by the Queensland Government Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services as a free online platform that provides a space to collaborate, learn and access resources and expertise.
This space focusses on local, national and international community care practices and experiences with incorporating in service provision. We have intentionally ensured our focus expands beyond local experience to ensure participants are able to access leading edge and contemporary information from international projects, experiences and implementations. Read More …
Reviews.com recently published a review of The Best Medical Alert Systems, and they gave me permission to repost it here as long as I met their requirements.
Medical Alert Systems — Help at the push of a button
Nearly 90 percent of seniors say they prefer to live in their own homes, and most expect to stay there. It’s called “aging in place” and put simply: no assisted living facilities. Family members want to respect these wishes, but the risks are real. According to the National Council on Aging, one in three adults age 65 and older experience a fall each year, let alone other emergencies. The best medical alert systems address these risks with reliable devices that can connect seniors with help, keeping them safely independent — and giving family members one less thing to worry about. Our top pick, Bay Alarm Medical, goes even further with attentive, personable service. In an emergency, we’d feel comfortable with a loved one in the company’s hands. Read More …
In an 80-page report issued this week, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), made several recommendations to address America’s aging population with independence technology. They include:
- mHealth innovation,
- remote patient monitoring,
- telehealth expansion and reimbursement,
- broadband access for seniors,
- more sophisticated wheelchairs, and even
- home designs for sustained independence.
What follows is a highlighted extract from the report’s Executive Summary. Read More …
EDITOR: The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest trade shows and conferences in the world, with well over 150,000 attendees, including more than 30,000 international attendees from 140 countries. Each January they come to Las Vegas, NV to see the latest tech products from over 3,000 exhibitors or showcase their own. Nowhere else on earth can you see and experience so much in such a short space of time. That’s why I love attending, but now I do it without the expense and hassle of traveling there.
For background, I’ve attended big technology shows like COMDEX & CES as an exhibitor, speaker or attendee for some 30 years, and while still at IBM I organized one of the first Hot Spots (now TechZones). It was for Home Networking just after I introduced IBM to the Connected Home concept (in 1994) and while I held leadership positions in some industry standards groups.
My CES coverage starts with an article by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn about what to expect, which first appeared in Huffington Post. It’s followed by links to Related Articles that you won’t want to miss if you’re a tech geek like me. Read More …
What Caretakers Can Do RIGHT NOW to Harness the Power of the Internet of Things
By Beth Kelly
Social technology and home automation have moved upstream. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, nearly one-third of seniors own a tablet or e-book reader. Almost 50 percent of seniors own high-speed Internet access and browse the Web at least 3-5 times per week.
These typing, Skyping, texting seniors are the next beneficiaries of the Internet of things (IoT), the growing network of WiFi-enabled appliances, wearable sensors, automated security systems and other connected devices. For instance, researchers at UCLA are investigating how to use WearSens, a piezoelectric necklace, to remotely monitor breathing patterns of recovering surgery patients. BrainAid offers the PEAT smartphone app to help seniors with memory loss live independently with scheduling assistance.
The revolution is now. Here’s how to get involved. Read More …
I’m always inspired by pioneering tech ideas that help people overcome physical or mental disabilities, so the videos that follow caught my attention. They’re about EyeWriter and BrainWriter, which use eye movements and brainwaves to help people with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease). ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causes loss of muscle control, including the ability to breathe, and thus leads to early death.
The famous theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, has helped to bring attention to the disease and what can be done with a severe disability by beating the odds and living past age 70.
Don Moir: ALS patient, husband, and father
In the video below, watch Don write a love letter to his wife and audibly say “I love you, Lorraine” for the first time in 15 years, thanks to a digital solution by the Not Impossible team, Speak Your Mind Foundation and HP’s #BendTheRules.
EDITOR: 9 Surprising Things Quadriplegics can do with an iPhone or iPad, by Mauricio Meza, is republished here with permission. It shows how Tecla gives iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android access to people with spinal cord, brain, or muscular disorders or anyone else who can’t use a touch-screen, including quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis (MS), ALS, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, brain injury, and stroke.
By Beth Kelly
There are more new health technologies on the market than ever before. Mobile phones and tablets provide health apps, many of which are capable of interacting with wearable fitness tracking devices. Trackers and their accompanying apps, which can be used to measure heart rate and steps per day, take medical awareness a step further than programs that simply focus on caloric intake.
EDITOR: While the accuracy of many of these wearable devices disappoint medical professionals, the simple ability to track progress, no matter how accurate, is a big step forward. And accuracy will improve over time with better sensor technology.
Managing diabetes and other medical illnesses, losing weight, and obtaining a higher level of health has never been easier as a result of the new technologies. Read More …
infographic courtesy of Home Access Products.
With innovations in health care, medicine, and nutrition, it’s no surprise that Americans are getting older. By 2030, nearly 20% of Americans will be over 65– and nearly 90% of them want to stay in their own homes as they age.
As aging in place continues to rise, seniors are increasingly looking towards technology to stay safe and connected. From personal alert systems to cell phones and tablets, seniors are embracing technology and all of its benefits. Whether aging seniors are tech-savvy, or prefer simple ways of communicating at home, these products and services can assist seniors with safety, entertainment, health/wellness, communication, and assistance. Read More …
By Rein Tideiksaar Ph.D., PA-C
Walking aids (canes and walkers) are commonly used by elders. But are they safe? According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), falls involving walking aids are responsible or an increasing number of serious injuries (broken hip and pelvic bones) and visits to the emergency room. Canes and walkers help elders to maintain their balance and mobility, yet at the same time they can also be a fall hazard. Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? There are several reasons for this inconsistency. Elders who use canes and walkers may be likely to fall because they are: Read More …
By Chris Miller (original at HealthWorksCollective)
A new robotic device designed to help those with paraplegia stand and function as if they were walking is expected to hit the market as early as next month.
Known as the Tek Robotic Mobilization Device or Tek RMD, the device debuted in 2012 and is the first of its kind to have been launched by Matia Robotics. Founded in 2006, Matia Robotics strives to improve the lives of people with disabilities by enhancing their health, wellness and level of independence.
Matia Robotics CEO Necati Hacikadiroglu, along with several team members, invented Tek RMD based on the specific needs of those with paraplegia, said Steven Boal, who serves on the Board of Directors.
“As you know, when a person is paralyzed from the waist down, they lose the use of their legs but their upper body still has its full function. So, if you can support their legs in such a way that leaves the hands free, they can do everything they used to do with their upper body,” Boal said, adding, “What they needed was a device that will support their legs without taking up any additional space and that will not restrict or limit their upper body functions. (Hacikadiroglu) developed the TEK Robotic Mobilization Device based on these considerations.” Read More …
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, a caregiving spouse who is between the ages of 66 and 96 and under excessive mental or emotional strain has a 63 percent greater risk of dying compared to those who are not tasked with caregiving. Family caregivers of all ages are less likely to take care of themselves due to the increased responsibilities and often don’t get enough sleep and exercise, eat poorly, and postpone their own medical appointments. It’s important to remember that taking responsibility for your personal health and well-being will allow you to better take care of your loved one.
If your spouse is contemplating major back surgery, this will entail recovery time you need to be prepared for. If minimally invasive surgery has not yet been considered, it may be an effective alternative. In recent years there have been many advances that have made this a more appealing option for those who have been diagnosed with damaged intervertebral discs, spinal osteoarthritis and other problems that cause back pain. The recovery time for a minimally invasive spine surgery is generally shorter than open-back surgery and is one of its significant advantages. Laser Spine Institute offers some of the latest minimally invasive procedures to patients across the U.S. Visit laserspinelocations.com to determine the nearest location to you and find out if this may be an option that not only helps your spouse find pain relief quicker, but eases the burden on you as well.
No matter what type of procedure your spouse undergoes, following these tips can help make a positive difference during your time as a caregiver. Read More …
By Wayne Caswell
The rapid and accelerating pace of tech innovation has profound implications for healthcare delivery & payment, aging, and disability employment, but regulations that support that are spotty or nonexistent.
The good news
“Durable medical equipment” is a class of assistive technology that can be paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurance plans. Motorized wheel chairs most often fall into this category. Read More …
OrCam is a novel assistance device for the visually impaired and the blind. It’s a glasses-mounted sensor that harnesses the power of Artificial Vision to compensate for lost sight. The sensor sees what’s in front of you, understands what information you seek and provides it to you through a bone-conduction earpiece.
Danny Long became a 24×7 caretaker for his wife, Shelly, after a botched spinal cord operation in 2008. The surgery was supposed to improve the failing sense of touch in her hands and feet, but instead it left her a quadriplegic with no feeling at all, except the severe pain in her back. Afterwards, no doctor would predict that she could ever walk again. But today, with help from her friends and faith, and the loving support of her creative and supportive husband, Shelly walks a mile every three days using the large gait trainer shown.
At some point, Danny decided to document her progress and their therapy journey in a series of videos. One showed how he adapted an old exercise bike to work for someone in a wheelchair. Another showed home-build parallel bars that Shelly used to practice standing and walking. And a third showed the walking harness he made to establish weight bearing safely. There are other videos on his Vimeo page, but the one I include below is a summary of their story.
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows you the latest in prosthetic technology: bionic hands controlled from an iPhone app. (from YouTube)
GOP Governors Deny The Poor Health Care
In Opposing Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion
RUSTON, La. — With no health insurance and not enough money for a doctor, Laura Johnson is long accustomed to treating her ailments with a self-written prescription: home remedies, prayer and denial.
Nearly Nine in 10 Seniors Drive a Car that Doesn’t Fit their Aging Needs
AAA research helps “silver tsunami” match vehicle features to health concerns
Washington, D.C., (Dec. 3, 2012) – With nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffering from health issues that affect driving safety, finding a car that not only adapts to conditions, such as lack of flexibility or muscle strength, while maintaining safety and comfort can be difficult. Data from a new AAA survey also reveals that only one in 10 senior drivers with aging health issues are driving a vehicle that has features like keyless entry and larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions.
To better equip the “silver tsunami” for driving safety and comfort, AAA has updated its Smart Features for Older Drivers resource to address a broader range of health conditions and include new data on 2012 vehicle features. As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008. In the update, Smart Features identifies vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, lists current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online tool. Read More …
I’ve written many articles here about Universal Design principals in communities, homes and products, and now I’m thrilled to say that moviegoers who are deaf, hard of hearing, have low vision or are blind can now experience movies at neighborhood theaters. Regal Entertainment Group announced that 200 theaters nationwide will offer the Sony Entertainment Access System.
The system includes specially designed and lightweight eyewear for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing so they can privately view closed captioned text for both 2D and 3D movies. Patrons who have low vision or those who are blind can use this assistive technology with headphones or neck loops to hear descriptive audio tracks. Captions and descriptive audio can only be accessed by this equipment and is not visible or audible to other moviegoers.
The system is available at the Guest Services counter or from any theater manager. To select films offering this service, look for online showtimes noting: “Accessibility Devices Available.”