Lesson 2: Technology, Disability & Schools

In the 20th century, the role of technology in improving the lives of persons with disabilities has been clearly recognized.  The benefits of technology for persons with disabilities were first recognized in public policy in the 1982 federal publication Technology and Handicapped People.

ADA_logo.gif Nearly 10 years later, in 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) established that access to employment, services and public accommodations through reasonable accommodations is a civil right for persons with disabilities.   Reasonable accommodations included those adaptations and technologies needed to provide the access enjoyed by most Americans to jobs, parks, public buildings, shops, public transportation, hotels, restaurants, entertainment, etc.

But just how "new" is the technology that provides access, assists and supports persons with disabilities? Is such technology only the product of modern 20th century invention?


How Did Technology for Persons with Disabilities Develop

A brief "unauthorized" history of technology for persons with disabilities through the ages (with thanks to Cook & Hussey, 1995):


Date: The Stone Age

stone age2.jpg

Borg breaks his leg on a hunting expedition. Through holistic medicine, his leg is healed, although Borg has a decided limp. Determined to continue to provide for his clan, Borg selects a fine, stout stick to assist his walking. This advanced design tool made with state-of-the-art materials stuns his family and friends, who smile and grunt.

Many years later, Thona, his now elderly granddaughter, who inherited the inventor gene from Borg, sticks an animal horn in her ear to make voices louder.