United Spinal Association is launching its Tech Access Initiative to assist technology companies in designing inclusive products and services that are accessible to people with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D).
The Tech Access Initiative will focus on improving various technologies that are vital and life-changing to people with disabilities, including autonomous vehicles; artificial intelligence and environmental controls; medical and mobility equipment; wheelchair and smart home technology; and augmentative and alternative communication.
“We want the unique user experiences and feedback of our community to carry weight and inform tech product service and design from the get-go, and not be an afterthought,” said Brook McCall, director of United Spinal’s Tech Access Initiative.
The Tech Access Initiative is composed of a team of United Spinal members and consumer advocates that depend on assistive technology to enhance their quality of life and independence.
Through active discussion, participation, and training; this team will provide insight to help enhance cutting-edge technology that is accessible to all.
The program will work closely with United Spinal’s partners and other leading technology companies to:
- empower people with SCI/D to take advantage of the growing opportunities inclusive technology offers to improve independence, accessibility, and health;
- ensure corporate culture and products and services embrace wheelchair users and all people with mobility disabilities;
- advocate for policies that increase access to inclusive and assistive technology.
“We are passionate about generating real change that equates to improved ease-of-use, simplicity of design, affordability, product access, and education and training, both for users and tech employees on all levels,” added McCall.
Considering the Coronavirus Pandemic, United Spinal has also identified a greater need to facilitate digital interaction and virtual inclusion of people with disabilities who are stuck at home with limited access to resources and support.
The benefits of the technology include alleviating feelings of isolation; creating mechanisms for resource distribution (i.e., medical or household supplies, care workers, accessible transportation, etc.); sharing emergency preparedness and crisis management information; access to telehealth and medical resources; and peer support.
For many livings with physical disabilities, limitations on community participation, and periods of confinement in the home are neither new nor temporary.
“The Coronavirus Pandemic has solidified a critically urgent necessity to equip our community with the tech solutions they need to stay healthy, safe, and connected now while knowing that these transformative devices will continue to support independence and virtual connectivity in the future,” said McCall.
United Spinal’s Tech Access Initiative seeks individuals with mobility disabilities to participate as testers. The program is currently looking for diverse individuals with personal and technology industry insights.