Expressing yourself with assistive technology
Each day, assistive technology helps people living with disability with movement, communication and comfort. Like most technologies, innovation in assistive technology provides new opportunities for people to develop new abilities and express their personalities.
Michelle Smith is a customer of Perth disability service provider Ability WA, and their assistive technology business Ability TECH provides her with customised technology solutions.
Ms Smith relies on her powered wheelchair for movement and a specialised iPad to communicate. She has found greater independence with her assistive technology and is often out in the community connecting with her family and friends.
‘My chair is amazing. It helps me to go out into the world,’ Michelle says.
Michelle is expressive and creative, spending time repurposing go-kart tyres into hanging planters and decorating them with twine. Michelle sells her planters to staff at Ability WA and markets across Perth.
Her creativity is not limited to her popular side business. Michelle is a clever, sharp-witted humourist and often the centre of laughs at her home. And while Michelle can communicate well with her smile, her communication device allows her full control of her dialogue.
When asked what innovations in assistive technology she would like to see in the future, Michelle says
‘I’m really happy. Everything works well for me.’
Offering advice for younger people with disability, who are investigating using assistive technology, Ms Smith said to be patient and find something that worked for you.
Future innovation customised
Everyone has different interests and passions, and people with disability have many different support requirements to live life their way.
Innovation in industrial design and manufacturing is making new technology accessible to people of all abilities, and Ability TECH is making the most of these technologies.
Ability TECH has a team of highly skilled and experienced technicians, industrial designers and mechatronics engineers who work closely with customers and therapists to design and custom-make equipment.
They customise technology for communication, postural alignment, movement, environmental controls, computer controls, including gaming, and recreational equipment, using the latest 3D printing and robotic shaping equipment technology.
The Ability TECH team has used this technology to customise, design and manufacture many different items to help people living with disability to participate in many activities, from making customised gaming console controls to fishing setups.
The possibilities in assistive technology are mostly limited to the imagination.
This article appeared in The West Australian on Friday 2 December 2022