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Essay: How has technology help disabled people ?

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  • Published: 16 November 2017*
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Disability is my chosen themes for my final major project, I mainly focus on a group of people that unable to hear and speak in this society which we called “Deaf-mute”. During the 11 weeks of my final major project, firstly, I started to research for the problem in the world and I found that there is so many disabilities problem that has already solved such as people born with no arms, legs so that the engineers has created prosthetic arms or legs for them. However, let’s look at the deaf-mute people, they still using sign language (body language or hand gesture) to communication. Not many people that able to understand sign language so this could be so hard for those people to go and communicate with people in the public. Then I came up with an idea to create them a voice prosthesis device controlled by brain or mind.

“Technology is the use of scientific knowledge for practical purposes or applications, whether in industry or in our everyday lives.” – study (2017)

Technology has help to simply our daily life so much for the last 10 years. It could do much more works that we are as people can do. Moreover, in the disability world, it has help them in their daily life as well. To overcome their barriers, not only that, it has help them to be extra-ordinary than normal people. Because of it, disabled people became more socially, made them proud to be who they are.

Main body:


1st example:

This is a robotic arm that connects to an implant inserted into the bone at the end of the remaining part of limb, and nerve reassignment surgery then allows brain signals to directly direct motion.

It was created and tested a patient by a group of researchers from Johns Hopkins University. And it works, he can move every single of his finger and able to grasp small objects too.

Johny Matheny, he has lost his arm to cancer in 2008. And since then he starts to improve on the advancement of arm prosthetic technology. He is a part of this work to revolutionizing the Prosthetics program too and he also the first patient to receive this treatment.

‘This accomplishment has eliminated one of the biggest gaps in prosthetic development: the socket,’ says Michael McLoughlin, chief engineer in APL’s Research and Exploratory Development Department. – Dailymail (2016)


In order to make a prosthetic like the Modular Prosthetic Limb work, a patient must first undergo targeted muscle re-innervation.

This surgery reassigns the nerves that one controlled the patient’s arm or hand.

The new system uses an implant to attach the MPL to the body, replacing the need for uncomfortable harnesses.

Through osseointegration, a threaded titanium implant is inserted into the marrow space of the bone.

Then, a titanium extension is attached, and brought out through the soft tissue and skin. [‘

After the extension, called an abutment, is attached, the prosthetic can be put in place.  

2nd example:

Bill Kochevar, 56, who was got into accident 8 years ago and became disability. But in the beginning of the year 2017, he has had electrical implant in the motor cortex of his brain and sensors inserted in his forearm, which allow him to moves his arm and hand by the signals from his brain, decoded by computer.

The device was developed by scientists from Case Western Reserve University, who are based at the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center in Ohio.

A team of surgeons implanted two electrode arrays, each around the size of a baby aspirin, on the surface of Mr Kochevar’s brain to record signals when he imagines moving his own arm and hand.

That signal is then fed into a computer which turns the command into an electrical pulse which triggers 36 electrodes in his hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder. To overcome gravity that would otherwise prevent him from raising his arm, Mr Kochevar also a mobile arm support, which is also under his brain’s control.

After 45 weeks of training Mr Kochevar can now move each joint in his right arm independently just by thinking.

“The ultimate hope of any of these individuals is to restore this function. By restoring the communication of the will to move from the brain directly to the body this work will hopefully begin to restore the hope of millions of paralyzed individuals that someday they will be able to move freely again.” – Telegraph (2017)



I have found a physic professor Stephen William Hawking that he body became disable because of disease. Mr. Hawking. When he knew that he has a disease and he has only 2 years more to live as normal people so that he find a solution for himself if that time come. Then he does research and corporate with many engineers from different computer and software company to help him on this, he and his team have created a computer that he could speak through it. On the other hand, I have found a disabled people that he has lost his arm to cancer and then he is trying to create a prosthetic arm that controlled by his brain. Both stories above has influenced me on the problem about the deaf-mute.

Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 (age 70), in Oxford, England. He is well known as a British cosmologist and physicist. He lost his ability to speak in 1985, when he was on a trip to CERN in Geneva, he caught pneumonia.

First, Hawking tries to communicate using a spelling card, showing letters and forming words with a lift of his eyebrows. Then a physicist named Martin King, he had been working with Hawking on a new communication system, contacted a California-based company called Words Plus, which is a computer program that allowed user to select words and commands on a computer using a hand clicker.

In 2008, Hawking’s hand was too weak to use the clicker so that his assistant change it to a switching device called “cheek switch” that sticked to his glasses.

Another experimental project is about Hawking’s wheelchair, it is a joystick that attaches to Hawking’s chin and allows him to navigate his wheelchair independently.

Move backward to 1997, when his computer-based communication system has been sponsored and provided by Intel® Corporation. My main interface to the computer is through an open source program called ACAT, written by Intel. Then he and Intel team, working together to upgrade his computer, his computer programs is upgrading every 2 years until now that he could let his computer talk for him and the speed of his speech is really fast. Moreover, he could use many options with his computer. He keeps looking into new assistive technologies, and he has experimented with eye tracking and brain-controlled interfaces to communicate with my computer.


1st example:

Scott Summit is the founder of “Summit ID” in 1997. He used to work for Tonie Industrial Design, then he taught design at Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, and Singularity University. He explored on the relationship between the body, human needs, and technology. He also a designer who design limb prosthetic for disabled people and create new idea for the prosthetic too. But he more likely to create limb prosthetics as st
reet style, sport style, and also other product as well. He is using 3D printing for his works. When he creates a limb prosthetic for the clients, he is carefully measure and custom to fit with the human body of each person.

2nd example:

Carlos Arturo Torres, from Umeå University in Sweden. He is a designer at the LEGO Future Lab in Denmark. During his internship, he saw some incredible creations such as fully functioning automobile made with LEGO bricks and a LEGO robot that solved Rubik’s cube puzzles, and people who had built arms and legs for themselves using LEGOs.

He has designed a prosthetic arm that is joined perfectly with Lego. The idea is come from the children that they can change the gripping part with their own designs of custom built Lego, because he believes that by letting children to have prosthetic like that they could see their prosthetic as one of their toys so it could help them to overcome their uneasy feelings when they are with other children. Also, it could make them feel like they are extra-ordinary than other children too.

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