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The digital transformation greatly affects the quality of life of people with disabilities
14 Sep 2022

It is estimated that more than 2.5 billion people around the world need one or more assistive products, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, or apps that support communication and cognition. However, almost a billion of them are denied access, as this report from the World Health Organization warns. We are facing a gap that urgently needs to be narrowed. One of the keys to this: digital transformation.

We live at a time when innovation, the internet of things, data and its analysis represent a strategic value for many companies and are having a decisive impact on everyday life. Fortunately, many organizations use this invaluable information to focus their research on how new technologies can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. But, although the advances experienced in recent years are undeniable, the data presented above show that the technological and digital transformation is still not reaching everyone equally. Today's world demands to speed up its development. And this leap must be progressive, inclusive and affordable. Its potential is enormous.

How can digitization and innovation make life easier for people with disabilities? Inclusive technologies and technological support products facilitate the tasks and routines of people with disabilities. There are multiple new developments, and they are gaining more and more projection thanks to the fact that we are immersed in a process of convergence of many solutions that were previously fragmented. Although not all of them are, here are some examples:

- Robotization has great potential to break down barriers based on physical mobility. Not only with the development of exoskeletons that allow people with spinal cord injuries or acquired brain injuries to walk, but also with other proposals aimed at enabling people with disabilities to carry out their daily activities by themselves, including eating, drinking or washing .

- At a time when daily life -whether in the workplace or in social relationships- is largely governed by the handling of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, there are several companies that have developed applications so that control of these can be done through facial or even eye movements.

- Artificial intelligence opens new frontiers for people with hearing disabilities. This project, financed with European funds, proposes an advanced innovation that aims to offer inclusive solutions to the communication needs of deaf people applicable to basic mobile devices.

- Although not exclusive to the digital environment, design for all incorporates accessibility in the development of any solution from the creation phase. To promote this commitment, product developers use accessibility criteria to guarantee people with different types of disabilities a good user experience.

- Leisure and enjoyment must also be accessible. The Touching Masterpieces are virtual reality gloves that allow blind people to enjoy art and experience masterpieces such as Michelangelo's David, the Venus de Milo and the bust of Nefertiti through touch.

There are many opportunities offered by the democratization of technology, since digital solutions must be an inclusive tool per se. On the way to achieving a just transition, without a doubt, people with disabilities will be one of the groups benefiting from these improvements, which are already much closer than we think.