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Assistive Technologies; Awareness and Opportunity

Assistive Technologies; Awareness and Opportunity

Robin Springer

May 5, 2003

 

In Russia, children with disabilities can be denied an education. In America, we have IDEA. In Brazil, it is acceptable to deny employment to a person with a disability, specifically because he or she is disabled. In the United States we have the Ticket to Work program. In Italy, there are buildings with steps but no wheelchair ramps. In the U.S., we have the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Even though we do not accept discrimination as inevitable and have made strides to assist the more than 52 million Americans1 with disabilities by passing legislation including the ADA and the Tech Act, why, then, are there so many people who are not getting the technology that will enable them to succeed in school, in the workplace, and in everyday life?

''Losing It'' is a documentary that examines the experiences of people with disabilities around the world. Sharon Greytak, the New York resident who conceived of and directed, ''Losing It,'' did so because she wanted to know if people in other countries had similar experiences to her own.

Greytak introduces viewers to six people in five countries. In Russia, Hong Kong, Brazil, and Italy, the assistive technology presented was comprised of crutches, an old wheelchair, and a wheelchair ramp. In the United States the technology consisted of a mouthstick and speech-recognition software that had not been upgraded in at least two years.

While the documentary was in no way a scientific study on how people with disabilities are treated, it allows us a glimpse into how these people with disabilities see themselves and how they are perceived by others. The lack of equality and accessibility in these countries is accepted as a way of life. As one of the people with whom Greytak visited said, ''This is the way things are.''

 
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robin springer

Robin Springer



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