Though many students go through the day without needing extra assistance, there isn’t anyone who goes through their day without using technology. For students with varying abilities, technology is key to navigating a college campus. And in this world of consistently innovative technology-focused learning, people with varying abilities find themselves with a growing multitude of options.
The world of technology for students is expanding virtually and physically. The BrainGate Research Team, consisting of scientists and engineers from Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Stanford University, Emory University and the University of California, has been working on a variety of helpful and innovative tools that could specifically help people with neurological conditions and limb loss.
These new technologies include exoskeletons that allow people to walk and do everyday tasks on their own for the first time, and apps that help translate difficult speech to help people communicate better.
Recently, in May 2021, BrainGate developed technology that decodes attempted handwriting movements into text almost simultaneously. A study published in Nature showed one participant had no use of hand movements, yet typed at a speed of 90 characters per minute.
Many of these technologies will help students tremendously in the future of education. There is also a lot of tech that already exists that will help make higher education more achievable for more people.
Dot Watch is the world’s first braille smart watch, which translates emails and texts into braille so blind users can communicate. It creates four Braille letters on the watch face at a time.
AXS Map is an online map that helps find wheelchair accessible ramps and restrooms in public places like hotels, restaurants, malls and hotels. It also has a rating system in which users can rate public places based on their accessibility.
Liftware is a self-stabilizing tool that acts as an eating utensil for people with hand tremors or limited hand movements. It can help reduce tremors up to 70% and make eating in public more attainable.
In 2021, the world’s first eye tracker for the iPad Pro was released. It offers people full use of an iPad using only their eyes. The device is very effective for people with conditions like cerebral palsy, ALS, or spinal cord injuries.
While technology is always developing, there are still many ways in which we are still behind. It is estimated that only 10% of websites are accessible to the visually impaired. This was extremely detrimental during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of the world moved online.
Apps like BlindSquare and Be My Eyes have helped close the accessibility gap in recent years. BlindSquare helps its users navigate public spaces on their own. Be My Eyes connects the visually impaired with sighted volunteers who can be video-called to help describe the situation and help describe what is going on around them.
While all these technologies are innovative and spectacular, there is still a lot of work to be done. And the efforts begin with each individual person. Navigating a college campus is a difficult chore for many, and it is important to always be helpful and kind to the people around you, regardless of ability.