I've Seen the Future, it's in Seattle!

11/08/2010 01:16 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • John Robinson President, Our Ability, Author of "Get Off Your Knees," Advocate and Congenital Amputee

I spent the better part of last month speaking to businesses, disability groups, community groups, high school and university students from New York to Seattle. What a great journey!

In my speeches I mention some of the adaptive equipment I have used in my life. Adaptive equipment that I have invented -- a curtain rods that I use for my zipper on my pants -- to equipment that has been purchased. I had a recent situation where I mentioned my parents bought me " hookers" to do up the top button on my shirt. I walked offstage and a friend of mine Amy Porter who runs Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitation Service was laughing. She said suggested I return to the stage and explain I meant 'button hookers,' unless my parents made a very inappropriate transaction. Not!

In Seattle, I showed the employees of Microsoft where I spoke for National Disability Employment Awareness Month the curtain rod, button hooker, my cell phone (always a crowd favorite how I use that) and other equipment that I use today. I explained how I've adapted in society with emerging technology and how excited I am about technology in the future.

Then, I was educated. I learned of emerging technology being developed by Microsoft.

For years, I've been using a third party voice dictation software. It was suggested that I try the speech recognition software built into Windows 7. I admitted I have never tried it, but as soon as I returned home I began my trial. I have converted!

Voice dictation software makes using a computer much easier for me. Before, I would be typing with the end of my arms hoping to hit the right keys. Imagine using the ends of your elbows and type the word "The." Yes,try it. Hold down the shift button to get the capital letter T. Not easy is it... Now, I simply say T. This blog is posted thanks to the benefit of voice dictation software integrated into Windows 7!

I heard about this new Xbox adaptation (Kinect) where it uses a scan of your body you to play video games. You are the controller. In a life without hands, controllers are not easy. I have not kept up with advanced technology as multiple buttons need to be pushed multiple times. Kinect has the potential to change the way people with disabilities play video games. I'm excited to try this new feature. Kinect arrives on shelves today and is already well received based on twitter reports.

Microsoft and many other computer enhancements have changed -- and will continue to change -- the world for people with disabilities. I'm excited to try Kinect, continue to use voice dictation software and use whenever new technology comes out in the future!