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Chapter: 10th English: UNIT 5 : Prose: Tech Bloomers

Tech Bloomers

This lesson talks about the use of technology by a normal person and in empowering the disabled to do their day to day chores of life – to travel, to communicate, to learn, to do business and to live in comfort. Alisha and David’s life has changed with the use of technology. Technology impacts the environment, people and the society as a whole. The way we use technology determines if its impacts are positive to the society or negative.


Tech Bloomers

This lesson talks about the use of technology by a normal person and in empowering the disabled to do their day to day chores of life – to travel, to communicate, to learn, to do business and to live in comfort. Alisha and David’s life has changed with the use of technology. Technology impacts the environment, people and the society as a whole. The way we use technology determines if its impacts are positive to the society or negative.

Have you ever thought that your refrigerator can order stuff on its own? Well, anything which is below a pre-defined limit or below certain threshold, can be self-ordered by the appliance. Your refrigerator can directly link to the ecommerce site and order for milk if it is about to be exhausted. Consumable products such as ink cartridges may be capable of self -ordering replacements when the current level falls below a certain threshold.

Have you ever wished you were better informed? Managing entertainment and home appliances by voice commands or by swapping the finger is a reality now. Getting bored by the program you watch on TV? Just tell your smart TV that you want to view your social feed instead. If you are struck in a traffic jam, just let your kettle make some tea for you which you can sip, piping hot, the moment you reach home. Your entire water and energy management can be taken care by automating all the activities.

Technology has not only made a normal person’s life easier but it is also a boon to citizens with special needs. India is home to 2.7 crore people living with one or the other kind of disability. According to the 2011 Census, 2.21 percent of India’s population is disabled. Unlike the developed world, India’s disabled are deprived by attitudinal barriers as they continue to grapple with the challenges of access, acceptance and inclusion.

a. What is the future of technology?

b. How many people in India suffer with disability?

Alisha says, “I would probably still have done it because I want everyone to know the difference technology has made in my life. But it would have been frustrating and difficult.”

“I have cerebral palsy and I can’t physically type as fast as I think or anywhere near. But right now, that’s what I’m doing. I bet you’re wondering how!

I am using a piece of technology called Dragon Dictate. I speak, and the words appear on my screen and then I can print them out. It’s made a huge difference to me. It’s made me achieve things I only dreamt of.

I used to have a teacher, she’s passed away now and one day she said to me. ‘You’re going to do your Maths GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education).’ I said, ‘No I’m not. Don’t be silly.’ I didn’t think I could do anything like that. Studying was so difficult because I had to rely on someone to type everything into a computer for me.

But that’s changed now. I can do it myself with my voice.

Kim, who is the Assistive Technologist at my school, introduced me to Dragon Dictate and it has opened up the world to me.

Kim showed me how to train it to understand my voice, it took a few hours. Now I use it in class and at home as well. It has made me more independent and I am now able to study on my own. So now I’m doing my Maths GCSE. I know my teacher will be proud of me.

I never thought I’d be able to do one GCSE in my life, but I’m going to do two. And I feel like I want to push myself even further. Kim says technology can help me do that, it is opening up the world for young disabled people like me.

There are many different types of technology that can help a young disabled person become independent. For example, if someone has very limited movement they can control a computer screen with Eye Gaze. That means when they’re reading they can move from page to page using the pupils of their eyes. They don’t need to press a button or anything.

Just one person, Kim, works with all 42 students here at my school and helps us use technology in different ways. She’s amazing. I don’t know what we’d do without her we’d lose out on so many opportunities.

It has opened up the world to me.

c. Who is Kim?

d. How does Kim help Alisha?

21 - year - old David says, “Technology is very important because it enables me to communicate and be independent, which gives me freedom.”

For verbal communication, David uses a Liberator Communication Device, which he controls with his eye movements. It has a Bluetooth adaptor, so it lets him use any PC or Mac by sending commands through the Liberator.

“It was a great feeling when I learnt to use it, it took me a couple of weeks. Communicating with people was very dicult before.”

He has an ACTIV controller also in the headrest of his chair in his bedroom, which means he can control his TV, Blu-Ray and music players.

David was born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and attends a specialist school and college. He has been using a high tech communication aid since he was eight years old and has been interested in AAC(Augmentative and Alternative Communication) and technology ever since!

When David first started out with AAC, he used a head switch to access his AAC device running a page - based system, which took lots of navigation and required a lot of effort combined with switching.

He now uses an ECO2 with ECO point, making his selections with a foot switch once he has fixed his gaze on the icon that is required. He has a smaller communication aid. It has been mounted on his walker. It is essential that much of his spare time is spent in the performing arts! David is also a keen sportsman, regularly playing football, boccia, hockey and baseball. He is a sports leader and uses his ECO2 linked to an interactive white board to teach PE lessons.

David has 144 icons on the screen that he uses with ECO point Eye Gaze. When David first tried this access method, his response was “I like it, it makes me faster, when can I have one?” Now David uses his ECO2 and ECO point to access the curriculum, study for his GCSE, order food and communicate while he is in restaurants and argue with his brother. You name it, David can communicate it!

David will now use his ECO2 to speak in complete sentences with correct syntax. It has increased the number of words he uses meaningfully and comment socially using the language of his peers, thereby becoming a confident and competent communicator. David has recently been working on idioms with his SLT, his latest being ”Mum has got a lot on her plate!” David is also an advocate to other students who use AAC and shows them how easy it is to communicate using the AC method.

He controls his PlayStation with a bespoke switch system, drives his electric wheelchair with head switches and uses the ECOpoint Eye Gaze system to communicate, access the computer to check on how the Chelsea football team is doing and send and receive text messages. When he is at home he also plays MP3 on his ECO2 from morning till night.

David has recently been selected to travel to Brazil to work with the Olympic opening ceremony team as part of the Remix Drama Group.

e. Why is technology important according to David?

f. Which instrument does David control with his eye movements?

g. What devices help David to move from one place to other?


I guess technology makes your life easier. Maybe it means you can keep in touch with your family, you can talk to and even see relatives who live far away. Well, Kim has shown me that technology can do even more for young disabled people like me. It can help us make friends, communicate and control our environment (like turning the lights on and out). It can help us study, get qualifications and find opportunities for work. It can make us confident and independent.

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is probably the best example of how Assistive Technology has helped a talented mind      overcome physical impairments and contribute productively to the world. So we can now look forward to a more inclusive way of learning, instead of the cloistered existence that most differently- abled learners had to face in the past. Newer technology allows differently- abled learners to learn with their peers as well as contribute fruitfully to the collaborative process of learning. This is indeed the new era of learning – truly learning for all.


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