Cerebral Palsy & Technology

People with Cerebral Palsy can have difficulty interacting with the world around them. Cerebral palsy may affect a person's mobility, their ability to talk, or their ability to interact with everyday objects. For some, it can be a challenge to get around due to spasticity or uncontrollable movements. Sometimes a lack of balance is present (Ataxic cerebral palsy) which prevents the person from moving as easily as others. In the past, there was little which could be done to help these people regain control of their lives. Eventually, assistive technology was developed to help those with disabilities. By "assistive technology" I mean tools, equipment, or services which are designed to compensate for, or enhance the function of some physical or mental ability that is impaired. For example, wheelchairs, walkers, and braces were developed to aid those with difficulty. Brail, as another example, was developed in the 1800's as a communication tool for the blind.

While some of these technologies have been around for a long time, computer related assistive technology was not readily available until the 1980s. Everyday, millions of children and adults who have a broad range of disabilities or limitations use computer driven assistive technology devices. These computer programs and hardware have made it easier for people with disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, to get around on their own and communicate effectively with others. Again, it's important to note that computers are not the only avenues to solving problems through technology. There are many low tech (and low cost) solutions for problems that disabilities pose. Examples of inexpensive, yet effective low tech solutions include wrist splints, clip boards, positioning pads or velcro tabs used to keep them in place.

However, computers are an important type of assistive technology because they open up so many exciting possibilities for writing, speaking, finding information, or controlling an individual's environment.

On this website, I will be exploring the computer related assistive technologies, and how they can be used to the benefit of those with cerebral palsy.