Dina Groden writes on the importance of assistive technology for disabled people
I believe that independence for the disabled is a human right. It is important that disabled people have the dignity of waking up each morning and deciding for themselves what actions they wish to take without consulting others for help and/or permission. This privilege is not just for the able- bodied but a right for all people and our society would profit immensely from including everyone by default and not when forced to do so by legislation.
To demand independence for the disabled, we should not view them as a separate group – just tax payers, consumers and talented individuals with equal rights. One way to enable this change in our thinking is to invent products that enable the disabled.
There are many products that can give disabled people the assistance they need to leave their homes each day but there are also many obstacles. For example even the fittest wheelchair user can be defeated by a modest ramp or badly laid pavement and need the help of another person. The blind also, can have the assistance of a guide dog, but although they are a valuable friend they are expensive and not available to all. I am sure that our talented young people could think of better products perhaps involving virtual reality and robotic systems.
I cannot invent or design as I am not an engineer, but I would like to see someone invent a small hand-held product, the size of a smartphone, that would ping like sonar and enable the blind to get a view of the world around them. Also, why not invent an extremely lightweight wheelchair that can travel over every terrain and be used by an individual without assistance? We have driverless cars in the pipeline and they should be prioritised for the blind as their need is greatest.
I would like this article to inspire comrades to invent progressive products and show the world that Young Communists are at the cutting edge of science. People think that inventions cost money but I maintain that enablement means disabled people will pay direct or indirect taxes as they would be working and/or using available facilities, such as swimming pools and leisure centres. Instead of being a person needing benefits they would become a financial contributor to society.
It is no good changing the laws in Parliament if we do not change our way of viewing the disabled. Our perceptions can be ingrained and limiting. We are a caring society but caring is not enough, we must and should demand independence for the disabled and change our view of this important section of our society. In my view we would gain immensely from including their talents and experiences. I want us to put all our talents to good use and show the world that we Communists are forward looking revolutionary people with a view of society where all are included and valued.
Dina Groden, is a member of the Communist Party of Britain