26 September 2019

Disability and Technology


Whilst researching this blog, I came across ‘mental retardation’ as a term used in an article from 2007! Haven’t we come a long way? So what is technology doing to keep up?

What I want to briefly consider are some recent ways that technology is helping or is planning to help, with conditions that some of us live with. You could write a book about this, but the focus of this blog is just a few new areas of potentially exciting development.

The term ‘assistive and rehabilitative technologies’ has been used by devices that are designed to help with some of the challenges that conditions present. This link summarises and gives further information and references about these useful technologies.

So, let’s look around a bit on some of the things that have grabbed my attention. I have to start with ‘Applied Narrative Technology’ and Ziggy’s Wish (ZW). 

‘What?!’ I hear you say is this all about! We have featured an interview with ZW’s founder before but here is a more information:

Founded by narrative specialist Ravi Thornton, Ziggy’s Wish is a creative technology company that builds tools to harness the power of storytelling in order to achieve positive social impact. The company delivers unique engagement projects around challenging subject matters, with a particular focus on reaching audiences via a strategic media approach. 

Their multi-award-winning, Arts Council England supported project ‘HOAX’ highlighted the benefits of this approach, increasing engagement with the highly challenging subject of psychosis by ten times the typical amount (achieving a 50% instead of 5% engagement with a clinical study on psychosis stigma). HOAX also achieved positive behaviour change in its audience, decreasing negative attitudes toward people living with psychosis, and increasing the likelihood of help-seeking in people who suspected they may be experiencing psychosis. HOAX was nominated for a Lottery Good Causes Award in 2017, and again in 2018 when it reach the finals. You can read more about Ziggy’s Wish and HOAX here: http://ziggyswish.com/portfolio/the-hoax-project/

Strategic Storyapps are a new development from Ziggy’s Wish, building on the technology that was designed and deployed during the HOAX project. Strategic Storyapps bring together the power of storytelling, with a range of therapeutics, plus the capability of technology, into a single tool that is then accessed as an interactive story app on a mobile device. The possibilities are so exciting.

I’d like to move to a second story away from the UK, to a Kenyan innovator Roy Allela, who created quite a stir earlier in the year. A 25 year old man who wanted to communicate with his 6 year old niece, has developed gloves which allow a sign language user to communicate with others. The recipient of several awards and funding, this seems to be a very innovative development. One to be watched to see whether it becomes a reality for the millions that he is hopeful of helping. Read about this technology here.

I’d like to end this article with a quick look at a product from a technology giant. Apple. 

Some of you may already be aware of this but it came to the attention of both Jane and I more recently, just by the fact of having elderly parents who have unfortunately had falls. Thankfully no bones broken!

Apple watches, from series 4 onwards have a ‘fall detection’ feature. The watch detects a heavy fall and calls the emergency services automatically if it doesn’t detect any movement. However, if it detects movement, it asks the person whether they are ok. The person can then decide whether they need the services or whether they are ok. Here is a link to their website telling us more.

There are so many other areas I could have talked about but I needed to limit myself! The 3 above are areas that have touched me personally in recent times and therefore the sharing. 

I hope at least one has been of interest and let me know of any other ones YOU are excited about. We could feature a blog written by all of you! 

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We are Result CIC, a community interest company. We work with people who feel marginalised or excluded to become more confident about their abilities and to fulfill their potential. We also work with Directors, Managers and CEOs who need support to bring about positive change in terms of diversity and inclusion in their organisations. We each have personal experience of the issues affecting the people we work to support, including disability, immigration, mental health and sexuality. We have also worked in senior positions in industry and government.

Our vision is a society where every individual can achieve their potential, feel fulfilled and make a valuable contribution. 

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