AT & Me
By Chris Armistead
I sometimes try to remember what I thought about the first time I ever heard the term "accessible technology." To be honest I don’t quite recall, but I know that it wasn’t all that similar to what I think about when I hear it now. I’ve been living with MS since 2005, and in 2007 I was given the unique opportunity to travel to a laboratory in Washington, D.C., where I first saw a few of these technologies in action.
The entire experience made me feel like I was in a spy movie. Among the most memorable items was a computer program that responded to your voice and transcribed the words you were to speaking into words on your computer screen. My personal favorite was a small adhesive dot that was placed on the forehead and controlled a cursor on the screen much like a mouse, except this one operated with nothing but subtle motions of the head. The awe I felt when viewing these innovations could perhaps be attributed in part to the fact that I had never before considered a need for such things to exist. AT to me sounded boring when I first heard it. What I saw was anything but boring.
I am thankful for the forward thinking people who continue to create accessible technologies that I couldn't possibly imagine conceiving. AT means that after a long day when my hand is feeling a bit shaky, I can choose to use a series of keystrokes to accomplish what I sometimes do with an often frustrating mouse. This comparatively unimpressive example is a small way in which technology helps me every day.
When I hear the term "accessible technology" today my mind almost immediately jumps back to the fascinating day in that laboratory. But when I consider what the term means to me as a young professional living – and working – with MS every day, I associate it with the tiniest things that make the biggest difference.