The Smartwatch And Disabilities.
07th May 2015
Despite existing since the early 90’s, and Android Wear launching almost a year ago, the smartwatch is now cool. With the launch of the Apple watch wearable have a new lease of life and received a fashionable if not functional overhaul. The big question is how will that benefit those with a disability or bring communication to those currently having difficulty?
Watches with smart features have finally evolved to become a viable product for some users. Billed as reducing your interaction with your mobile and making sure you never miss a call, the real benefit is not having to fumble around in your pocket every time the phone beeps. Allowing you to see what the noise is all about and decide if it’s worth the struggle to answer it or not!
We spoke to Louis Speight, founder of Ethos Disability and full time wheel chair user about the premise of the smartwatch to improve his life. Unfortunately for the revolution, the reactions of Louis are somewhat moot, at least at the moment. The issue is “that the 1st generation is not going to be a massive step forwards” he added. Meaning the real life changing features may come in two or three years’ time.
I am pushing along the street getting my phone out of my pocket is a pain. Likewise if I have it in a bang that also poses some problems. So the concept of wearable tech is appealing.
Louis Speight, Ethos Disability
After spending some time with the Apple watch, Louis echoed what some users with no mobility issues have found. Initial reservations relating to manual dexterity didn’t seem an issue, but the interface is still small and cluttered making the appeal somewhat limited. The real appeal of the Apple watch seems to be coming from those with a visual impairment.
Molly Watt suffers from Usher Syndrome, but much more than this she loves her Apple gadgets! Able to order an Apple watch with white strap and black face to aid in creating a visible contrast she is able to see. Even after short usage Molly is nothing short of moved by the difference it had made to her life. The Accessibility features Apple have used make it perfect for her, however not every visual impairment is the same so users may need to have a test first before splashing the cash.
Apple products have been more than just up market gadgets to me, they really have been my access to the many things most take for granted but that those of us with deafblindness, particularly struggle with.
Between her friends they have devised a communication code using taps, small sketches or her heart beat quickly and easily. Allowing Molly to send a message to others that she needs help, she is struggling with something or simply that she is bored and wants to leave! Coupled with the possibility of using voice commends when paired with Bluetooth hearing aids the wearable tech revolution for disabled people could really be here.
What do you think?