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Tech and Disability

For reasons* I've been paying a lot more attention to the intersection between technology (both digital and analog) and disability.

I mean, before I got sick my life was ruled by tech. I'm a developer, I have a mobile phone, a decent laptop, some audio gear and so on. Hell I used to be a committee member for Linux Australia and I hosted my first podcast on my home server over ADSL (don't do that by the way).

However since my back decided to play silly buggers, my life has become reliant on technology in a much more intimate way. I use both a manual and powered wheelchair, my bed is now adjustable to allow me to deal with my spasms/nerve pain and even a trip to the bathroom involves the use of technology.

For people with disabilities (PWD) to survive in the modern world (or even just survive for some) they have to have a relationship with technology which could be seen as being closer and more intimate than able bodied people. As such we really need a place at the table when it comes to building and developing these things. 

I’m a software developer. Have been for the past twenty odd years and one thing I have learnt is that if you build your software without actually involving the people who are going to be using it, then your software is not going to work properly. It might meet your goals, but the end users are either going to have to create their own work arounds, or just ignore it. You end up with something that no one likes but is forced to use.

I’ve had a look round for a space where PWD can talk to each other about technology and I haven’t really found it yet. I’m not looking for a hacker space, though that would be awesome, but more of a community space for PWD to come together and compare notes, questions like “I’m having trouble with this thing, does anyone have any recommendations?” and the like.

I’m also looking for a space that deep dives on the issues facing PWD and technology. Things like privacy, suitability, empowerment and so on. I can find bits and pieces across the internet (like reviews of certain techs) but no central space.

I realise this is a bit rambly, this whole line of thinking was sparked by an idea I had to do video reviews of things that PWD use so you could say it’s grown a bit from the original thinking. I mean it could be that the ocean that we group PWD into is actually too diverse for one site to do all the things.

If I can sort out what I want to see in my head properly I’ll post some more. But if you have any thoughts, ping me on twitter or mastodon.

*Reasons being this

The header image is a Shag sunning itself after a swim in a pond near where I live.


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