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Embrace the Power of Assistive Technology: How Can it Boost Your Workplace Productivity?


An image made by Artificial Intelligence with a big caption in the middle saying "Assistive Technology"
An image made by Artificial Intelligence

In this mind-boggling era of ours, with A.I war, the Internet of Things (IoT) and renewable energy, workplaces are constantly evolving, and sticking to good old ways might not work as efficiently anymore.


So, in this blog, I’d like to dive into the fascinating world of assistive technology (or AT for short). Trust me. It's not just your regular "office stuff" – it's a game-changer that deserves more attention than it’s getting!



What is Assistive Technology?


Before I dive into the details, let's first start by defining Assistive Technology and how it can benefit you.


You might have heard that AT helps people with disabilities by providing a wide range of devices, software, and tools. It assists them in overcoming environmental barriers and participating in activities that might have been challenging otherwise. However, these technologies have the potential to revolutionize how EVERYONE navigates and interacts with the world around them.

Using assistive technology allows individuals to:

  • be more independent

  • access information easily

  • communicate effectively

  • take part in education and work

  • participate in social activities

It's not solely people with disabilities who benefit; society benefits from the inclusion and diverse perspectives that assistive technology brings. Please, let me explain what I mean.


A graphic that lists every tasks or areas an Assistive Technology could help an individual
Image Source: https://www.augsburg.edu/class/groves/assistive-technology/everyone/


Quick History


While the “technology” part may make this notion sound relatively modern, this technology has been around for ages. Way before we started writing things down, people were already coming up with clever gadgets to help them out with everyday work, thus the creation of the wheel! Think about it: even our prehistoric pals had their own assistive tech. Way back in 424 BC, someone came up with the idea of using a shiny crystal as a magnifying glass to make reading easier.


What about the first wheelchair? Well, its ancestors can be traced all the way back to the sixth century. That means people have been using wheelchairs to get around for over a thousand years!


And one of the most common pieces of AT, eyeglasses, was invented by Salvin D'Armate in Italy way back in 1284. Imagine how blurry everything was before that!


What About Today?


While assistive technology has a longer history than one may think, many consider the current era as the golden age of AT. A significant turning point came in the late 1970s when our perspective on AT changed, and we started focusing on supporting not only physical disabilities but also neurodiverse minds. It was during this time that many of the reading and speech support technologies we use today were born.


Moreover, the late 1970s marked a shift towards creating and implementing devices that could aid learning and enhance the overall quality of life for those who use them. This period became a crucial milestone in the development of AT, as it expanded its reach to support a wider range of needs and empower individuals with diverse abilities.


How Does it Translate Into the Workplace?


An image of an office woman working in her office using office tools such as a calculator, highlighter, and a laptop.

Employees


Assistive technology (AT) can empower you to thrive in the workplace and unlock your full potential. Embracing AT not only ensures that your individual needs are met but also promotes inclusivity and equal opportunities. By utilizing AT tools that cater to your unique abilities, you can enhance your productivity, communication, and overall job satisfaction.


Additionally, AT opens doors to a broader range of career opportunities and enables you to showcase your skills and talents. Embracing AT is not just about accommodation; it's about unleashing your capabilities and contributing to a diverse and vibrant workforce. Imagine having a personal toolkit that boosts your confidence and job fulfillment, creating a positive impact on your career journey.

Employers

AT can help you create a workplace that welcomes a diverse workforce with open arms. Not only does this help to meet legal requirements for duty to accommodate, but it also expands your talent pool, attracting more skilled and talented individuals. Investing in AT isn't just a nod to corporate social responsibility; it's like sprinkling fairy dust of job satisfaction and employee retention!



Diving Deeper: Exploring the Details


Are you still reading? Great! Let me guide you through more specifics.


Perhaps you’ve already heard about ramps being a great example of Universal Design (UD). Often associated with wheelchair users, ramps are also utilized by:

  • Cyclists

  • People with strollers

  • Roller Skates

  • Distributors with trollies

  • People carrying luggage

  • And many others


 a compelling illustration of how something primarily linked to the disability community has positive impacts on a broader population.
Image source: https://www.nec.com/en/global/design/ud/index.html

The image above is a compelling illustration of how something primarily linked to the disability community has positive impacts on a broader population.


The principles of UD can be well translated into the effectiveness of AT in the workplace. UD refers to the intentional design and structure of an environment, whether built or digital, ensuring that it can be accessed, understood, and utilized by people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. So, let me give you more examples that are considered less often.


Ergonomic Tools


For People with Disabilities: Ergonomic furniture and tools such as adjustable desks, chairs, or specialized keyboards and mice can be crucial for people with physical disabilities, making the workplace more accessible.


For Everyone: Even without disabilities, these ergonomic ATs can prevent repetitive strain injuries that develop over time due to improper postures or repetitive motions. They can increase comfort and productivity for everyone in the office, thus decreasing absenteeism and the potential for work-related injuries.



Speech-to-Text Transcription Services


For People with Disabilities: Transcription services that convert spoken words into written text can benefit people with various disabilities. Speech-to-text software can help them 'write' by speaking, have a conversation with a hearing person, or “speak” their thoughts down when the flow of ideas is too overwhelming.


For Everyone: The speech-to-text can improve accessibility by providing accurate and searchable text records of meetings, presentations, and discussions for all employees, enabling better understanding and retention of information with lesser effort.



Text-to-Speech Services


For People with Disabilities: Text-to-speech and screen readers can help people with visual impairments and low vision, as well as those with learning disabilities.


For Everyone: These tools can also be helpful to any employee who is multi-tasking or prefers auditory learning. For instance, one could listen to reports or meeting minutes while commuting or doing other tasks.



Video Conferencing with Real-Time Captioning


For people with disabilities: Real-time captioning during video conferences benefits Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals by providing instant access to spoken information.


For everyone: Simultaneously, it benefits all participants by enhancing clarity and

comprehension of the discussions, even in situations with background noise or varied accents. It can be very beneficial for those with English as a second language.



Collaboration and Productivity Tools


For people with disabilities: Various collaboration and productivity tools, such as project management software, shared document platforms, and communication apps, assist autistic people and other neurodivergent employees to manage their workflow, prioritize tasks, and keep up with deadlines.


For everyone: These tools improve communication, streamline workflows, and facilitate efficient collaboration among team members, regardless of their individual abilities.


These examples illustrate how accommodations and assistive technologies designed for individuals with disabilities can provide benefits to all employees in the workplace. By promoting inclusivity, accessibility, and comfort, these solutions contribute to improved productivity, communication, and overall well-being for the entire workforce.



Here's the Bottom Line


Investing in assistive technology isn't just a fancy accessory for your workplace; it's a strategic move that unleashes a tsunami of benefits. From increased productivity to reduced risks, it's a power-packed punch that might take your work to new heights.


By embracing the world of assistive technology, you're not just empowering your workforce; you're transforming it into an inclusive, innovative, and productive force to be reckoned with!



Want to Learn More About A.T?


If you are mind-blown by the potential of Assistive Technology and wish to explore its application in your workplace or educational journey, we are here to guide you.


Become our client and get connected with a Case Manager to get referred to our Inclusion Specialist for individualized suggestions on AT to boost your productivity and make your work more efficient and accessible.


To register as a TEAM Work client, fill out the form below (at the bottom of this page, in the footer section) to get started!


 

A picture of Nina Nersesova, the author of this blog article.

About Nina Nersesova

Nina is originally from the sunny city of Tbilisi, Georgia. She moved to Canada to pursue her Master's degree and has recently graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University. A firm believer in the holistic approach to any dilemma, she always strives to look at the bigger picture, conduct thorough research and come up with creative, personalized solutions. When not at work, Nina tests her skills at recreational sports, plays video games or explores beautiful Nova Scotian nature.



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