Being able to bring your own technology to work is a big deal to me and many people with disabilities. Without assistive technology, it would be very difficult for me to work like I am now. It would be hard for me to write this blog.
After graduating from Edinboro University, I landed an internship at The Equal Rights Center in Washington D.C. My position as a Civil Rights In-tern required me to do Internet research on a variety of topics. They had computers in the office that we were expected to use, but they weren’t adapted for me.
You see, I use a Mac laptop with various specialized software, which allows me to complete tasks efficiently. I use programs like Dragon Dictate for Mac (allows me to type with my voice), Dwell Click (allows me to click auto-matically where I put the mouse pointer), KeyStrokes (an on-screen key-board), and VoiceOver (reads material out loud). In college, I also used Kurzweil 3000 (reads and highlights material).
My computer is set up with these special programs to meet my needs as I work. Without them, I would not be able to accomplish my work nearly as efficiently, if at all. The Equal Rights Center tried to adapt one of their computers for me, but I still wasn’t able to go fast enough, and logically it made more sense for them to allow me to bring my laptop to work, since I already
had all the software I needed. Allowing me to do this made it more cost efficient for them, and allowed me to work at full potential. Now, I also rely on my personal technology to accomplish my work as Communications Associate for the #IWantToWork Campaign and The Arc of Pennsylvania.
Employers need to be flexible about the use of personal technology and al-low their workers with disabilities to use their own devices at the work place. Technology makes things a lot easier, and sometimes even possible, for people with disabilities. With some imagination and flexibility, employers can adapt to a worker’s personal technology and not place their internal and external systems at risk.
There was a time, not so long ago, when people with disabilities weren’t able to be as independent. We had to rely on people without disabilities to help us do pretty much everything. Technology has changed that.
With technology constantly evolving, it’s becoming easier for people with disabilities to use their God-given abilities to work and become as independent as possible.
Being born in 1989, I’ve been able to witness first-hand the tremendous strides that technology has made. If you were to tell me back in the 90s that I would be typing with my voice one day, working my computer through my joystick on my wheelchair, or turning lights on in my house through a wire-less phone, I would not have believed it.
Every person should have access to the technology they need to reach their full potential. A lot of people aren’t even aware of the different technology that exists. One of my goals in life is to change that.
Different technology works better than others for different people. As a per-son with a disability, I can tell you that it takes a lot of trial and error. It may take a very long time to find the right software that works for you. Once you find the right technology and set up that works for you, it makes more sense to take it with you rather than spending time trying to customize an-other device.
Here are a few articles that might be of interest:
Tech Equipment Tax Deduction Tip http://www.pcworld.com/article/191894/tech_tax_deductions.html
What Are Job-Related Tax Deductions? http://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/tax-deductions-and-credits-2/what-are-job-related-tax-deductions-9307/
PA Department of Revenue http://www.revenue.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx#.VlScR4RcL1Z
By Alexa Brill