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Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, from mental health disabilities, learning difficulties and physical disability. It can be something that happens even before a baby meets the world for the first time, or it can be as a result of an accident when you’re all grown up. Getting a disability can happen to anyone, at any time. Clearly, we as a society should do everything we can to make sure that everyone is as happy and comfortable as they can be.
This, of course, is a very idealistic view, and not everyone sees it that way. As medicine advances, more and more people are living with their disabilities than what would have been seen even 30 years ago. But, has modern life caught up? Often you read about how the government policy on disability is outdated and treats disabled people unfairly, and although it may seem that way, can the government afford to support more and more people living with a disability who are unable to work?
Obviously, that is a much more pessimistic view. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, we can all agree that quality of life for anyone is extremely important. I believe that no matter your political affiliation or your thoughts about the strain that an increasing amount of people to care for put on our government, we can all agree that everyone deserves to feel happy, safe and as comfortable as possible.
In this article, we will be looking at what life used to look like for those with disabilities, and compare that to what life looks like now. Then we will show you some of the wonderful charities that exist now to help disabled people and their families, and finally, we want to show you some of the best technology that’s coming up today that is specifically designed for those who need the most help.
Disability used to be a taboo subject, and even to this day, it remains something that is kind of brushed under the carpet. Mothers used to send their children to asylums or ‘special’ schools to care for their children if they were ill, and people with disabilities had a much lower life expectancy. This was just kind of a blanket policy to cover all kinds of disability, from learning difficulties to mental health and beyond. Mental health has only now begun to get the recognition it deserves, and learning difficulties were not recognised at all 50 years ago, it was just assumed that you were stupid and should probably just do a manual profession, such as labouring or farming. The asylums only closed down in 1981, after it was revealed that people were being heavily abused by people in power at these institutions. Many of the people in these places didn’t really need to be there, but the lack of understanding of their conditions lead to a bunching together of all people who weren’t ‘normal’. This, of course, could not carry on, and with the creation of the NHS and the continual progression of medical research, we are in a much better place for those who suffer from disabilities. Although, I don’t think we are doing our best as a society.
There have been developments over the last few years of government schemes that are applying disability to their decision-making process. There was a new Equality Act 2010 which made some difference to the life of those who live with a disability, and there are now IGOs that have the sole purpose of making life more accessible, more enjoyable and more alive than tan before.
After some research, we have gathered for you some of the best charities that have come about recently, and it is truly heartwarming to see how much time people are willing to put aside for those who need it.
This is just what we think the best charities are, not from an official list, but we think it’s so important that these wonderful organisations get the attention they deserve!
The first one here we found from an episode of The Russell Howard Hour. This charity is called Gig Buddies – it offers an opportunity for people who have a learning disability to buddy up with a volunteer to go to gigs together. Their want to allow people with learning disabilities to have a life outside their homes and attend events at night.
This is the final charity we have chosen for you is The Leonard Cheshire Foundation. It believes in helping disabled people live the fullest life possible. They are celebrating their 100th year of service year, and we think that definitely deserves some recognition! For this special milestone, they have asked people to participate in their 100 for 100 challenge, which asks people to pick a challenge to do 100 times over! Here are some that people have chosen, and let us know if you’ve been inspired to join in!
These charities do an amazing job, but a bottom-up approach with an issue like this is just not going to work. We need someone in government that is willing to make serious policy changes, such as a quota of staff that have disabilities that relates to the size of your company and a better education of common disabilities. At no point in my education was I taught about disabilities, how they happen and how to interact with people with disabilities. It sounds silly, but it requires some delicacy and people don’t always know how to handle these difficult relationships and just end up segregating people with disabilities.
This next clip talks about how difficult people with disabilities find getting work, even if they are completely capable of working.
A few weeks ago Chancellor Phillip Hammond made a comment suggesting that the current productivity slip in the workplace is due to more disabled people being in the workplace. This is just insane because up until now the government has been saying that disabled people are a drain on resources and those that are capable fo work, should be able to do so. Now that more people are in work, they are damaging the productivity? Nonsense. Make up your mind. The Chancellor didn’t even have any evidence to support his claims, and it is extremely damaging to the disabled community when someone in power makes a comment like that.
This is just another little clip from The Russell Howard Hour that encapsulates how people with disabilities feel about the Chancellors comments:
So, what else is out there to make life a little easier? There have been some incredible inventions in the tech sector that really shows the commitment people have to this sector of business. The Mighty have compiled a list of their best inventions in this sector that are helping to revolutionalise people’s lives.
1 – Eye Play the Piano is a system that allows a person to play the piano without the use of the hands or arms. An eye-tracking device mounts on the player’s head and allows them to select keys to play using eyesight, blinking and head movements.
2 -An anti-tremor spoon that helps people with Parkinson’s disease eat on their own. The utensil allows people who live with essential tremors or Parkinson’s disease to feed themselves and more comfortably eat on their own, allowing for more independence.
3 – An app that encourages children with autism to make eye contact. Some people with autism struggle to initiate and maintain eye-contact, so reading emotions of the people around them are more difficult. To help combat this problem, Samsung and a team of scientists developed an interactive camera app called Look At Me. The app encourages children to make eye contact with a parent or guardian through the use of the smartphone camera and helps keep them motivated through a points system, themed missions and various sound and visual effects.
4- A car that allows people in wheelchairs to slot into a motorised vehicle. The Kenguru car company, which sells electric, lightweight cars that wheelchair users can easily wheel into.The small electric car is designed to go around 25 miles per hour, making it ideal for getting around town but not for busy highway travel, and has had a huge impact on the lives of so many people who are
5 – A belt that can detect seizures: Created by students at Rice University and called The SMART (Seizure Monitoring and Response Transducer) belt, this device uses electrodes on the torso to sense electrical conductivity and a different sensor to monitor breathing. While it cannot prevent a seizure from happening, The SMART belt can be worn under clothes easily, making it ideal for parents of children with epilepsy to monitor their child and help keep them safe.
All of these inventions absolutely do change lives everyday. And by applying disability to technology we allow our inventions to help those who really want to leave a fuller and more independent life. These are the values that Urgos holds dear, and we have included several features that will help people who have things like Parkinsons Disease, Dementia or Cerebral Palsy to simply be able to make themselves a cup of tea – or maybe a pot noodle? It will be their choice, which is the wonderful thing about it.