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Empowering People with Disabilities – A fundamental Challenge for Technology

I was lucky enough recently to attend a industry briefing for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, an Australian Scheme intended to fund supports for People with Disabilities. This scheme will fundamentally alter the lived experience of people with Disabilities empowering them with choice and control of thier lives.  The scheme aims to also drive down the long term costs of supports for people with Disabilities by reducing long term support costs through early intervention and improved return to work.

During the Industry briefing we were given the opportunity to hear from Sean McIntyre, a person with substantial disability (quadriplegia) who presented an end user perspective of living with a disability.  Sean outlined four key areas that challenge people with disabilities that are either improved or impacted by technology:

  1. Diverse community  – one size does not fit all
  2. They do things differently  – they live in a world of workarounds where they have  to continually make compromises just for daily living  – same applies to technology
  3. Robs you of time – the basic tasks of daily living are all consuming  – they don’t have time to be held up with working out how to leverage technology – it has to be simple and easy to use
  4. Disadvantages you with technology  – technology  innovation is geared towards the able bodied population and as that becomes the new norm, people with a disability  become further disadvantaged

In addition there is the overarching issue of having to tell your story multiple times to service providers and government agencies.  While data protection and privacy remain important issues, they should not be used as constraints or barriers for enabling people with a disability to share their life story with their needs and wants, with those who need to know.

The challenge is there how do we meet this challenge to deliver the advantages of technology to a group of users who are often forgotten.

For further information


Lived Experience in Disability (

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