Inventions and disability

Graeme Innes, Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner has written an excellent – funny – article over at ABC’s ramp up about the innovations we have – thanks to people with disabilities.

I have witnessed first hand how ingenius people with a disability can be – and learnt a few things along the way. Thanks to a person with a disability, I know that a skateboard is an essential item to have for moving furniture with ease. I know that a walking stick can also be a ‘curtain closer’, and object lifter and my favourite of all – an arm extension to drive your mouse. Yes, I have witnessed someone use the end of a walking stick, held across the room, to push the computer mouse, to navigate to the top menus and select shut down on a computer.

While Graeme is detailing the inventiveness of those with, and those helping people with, disabilities, he is also demonstrating another great quality many disabled people have – a brilliant sense of humour. My favourite example of this harks back to when I worked at Royal Blind Society and actually I think Graeme may even have been chairman at the time. A person phoned in and wanted to know if there were any advantages in being blind. We asked around the office and one of my colleagues quickly replied ‘you never have to be designated driver.’

But seriously for a moment, Graeme has some serious points. Having a disability is expensive. I’m sure that most people are not aware that you can buy many second hand cars cheaper than a new wheelchair. Adaptive technology for computers also comes with a hefty price tag. You name the disability and there seems to be an associated – and large – cost. What is to be done about this? I like Graeme’s conclusion:

What shall we do?

Go on hunger strike like Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption campaigner in India? Not me; I like my tucker too much.

Withdraw our labour? Well that won’t work; half of us don’t have a job.

Blockade our parliaments? Umm, that could be a problem; many of us can’t get in because there is limited physical access.

No, bugger it. We’ll just take back our inventions. No phones, no clicking lights, no ramps. Let’s see how society functions without them.

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Posted on October 9, 2011, in Disability and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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