Assistive Technologies: Principles and Practices - Chapter 2: Technologies That Assist People who have Disabilities

Elsevier, Assistive Technologies (Fifth Edition): Principles & Practice, 2020, Pages 16-30
Albert M.Cook, Janice M. Polgar, Pedro Encarnação

In the 21st century, we have seen a transition from a machine-based or manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based economy. The focus of the development of the knowledge economy has been to overcome traditional societal barriers, including spatial distribution of citizens, language or knowledge barriers, handicaps resulting from disabilities or environmental conditions, social status, and economic power (Weber, 2006). There is also a trend from a regional or national scope to a global scope. This may mean that the digital divide between developed and emerging countries has narrowed. Although the information age can bring significant growth and improvement in living conditions in under-resourced countries, it is important that people with disabilities are included. This requires that we pay attention to accessibility. In this chapter, we consider the broad scope of technological capability that is emerging and the specific implications that those technologies have for people with disabilities.