Assistive Technology

Arusha Times News

It all started when I met Mrs. Lund in her office one afternoon. We were discussing career paths, and I had no idea what to expect when I showed interest in assistive technology.  Right away she bestowed upon me the honour of cooperating with some incredible teachers in a frequently overlooked classroom at John Knox. There I met different teachers, but also two inspiring students.  From then on, I started to spend lunch with them once a week.  During my first visit with students, J and A, I instantly knew they were special. Although J is non-verbal, she seemed to have a sixth sense for people I hadn’t seen before. 

J is very social, and likes to watch people and be with people. While I was working with the camera arm Transformer HD, it would not connect to WIFI, I became frustrated.  Suddenly, J jumped out of her chair, came over, and held my arm. I almost dropped the machine! Although J might not have understood what I was doing, she could sense my frustration and came over to comfort me.  The immediate lesson for me was that God gives each person unique and special gifts.      

God calls us to help one another with our gifts. One way I can help is through my interest in assistive technology. J and A’s teachers showed me the equipment and apps that are available for them to use.  I was to help them learn the intricacies and applications regarding the various devices. Seeing the technology that people created out of the kindness of their hearts was a very touching experience. The detail and meticulous planning in the design of the products radiated commitment, hard work and creativity. An example is the Transformer HD.  Its primary function is to help people see better from far distances or remotely, but has countless other functions such as adaptations for those with colour disabilities and conversion of text-to-speech. Through simple concepts, only one who felt deep and true empathy for another could have created this. 

The more I saw, the more I realized that I knew so little.  There is lots to learn.  Assistive technology creates products that are generalized, however, each individual requires extra help in ways that are unique. I see there are countless opportunities to keep advancing in this front, and crafting devices and apps to cater to each individual’s strengths and weaknesses is essential. Fortunately, technology is advancing at an unprecedented speed, and this can allow for more convenient and versatile ways to help people. For example, informs us that by 2012 over 900 apps were already available for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)*.  Now, engineers are designing things like gloves that can convert sign language to read text, stair-climbing wheelchairs and robot arms so advanced they send nerve signals back to your brain so you can feel things through the arm*.  Moving forward, I would like to start researching so I may design a tool that can better help people like J and A.  I am confident that God will use all my gifts to make an impact to help others, especially when it begins with spending one lunch hour a week in an off the beaten path classroom to make new friends.  

By Matthew C. 9B

*Works Cited

Gigante, Michael Del. “Kid Tech, according to Apple [Infographic] | Mobile Technology in Education | Mobile Technology and Children | MDG Advertising.”, 28 Aug. 2012, Accessed 6 Jan. 2023.GuardianHelmets. “6 Latest Advances in Assistive Technology [INFOGRAPHIC].” Guardian Helmets, 5 Sept. 2017, Accessed 5 Jan. 2023.