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Assistive Technology for the Blind

In 1956, Patricia Weaver was born three months prematurely. She survived, blinded for life. She went to a special education elementary school where she was taught to read and write Braille. Later she was mainstreamed into public high school and eventually graduated from a public college with a double major in music and Spanish. Mrs. Weaver is one of the over 40 million people in America with a disability. Joseph Lazzaro, a computer expert and blind himself, defines disabilities as “any permanent condition that seriously impairs a major life function like seeing, walking, talking, hearing (6)." Unfortunately, not everyone with a disability is as successful as Mrs. Weaver. There is hope, however, for these 40 million people. With the passing of the American Disabilities Act and other laws as well as the invention of new assistive technology, Americans with disabilities successfully compete with others.
The American Disabilities Act, passed in 1990 during the Bush presidency, granted civil rights protection for people with disabilities. Many supporters of the ADA hoped only to put an end to discrimination but this law did much more. Under the ADA, employers are required to provide "reasonable accommodations" for an employee that has a disability so long as this does not cause the employer to suffer "undue hardship" (Nather 4). Reasonable accommodations often include access to a computer with assistive technology (Gunderson 381). The National Council on Disabilities points out the significance of required technology "for Americans without disabilities technology makes things easier. For Americans with disabilities, technology makes things possible" ("Fulfilling America's Promise" 6). In short, the ADA allows people with disabilities to lead a fairly ordinary life (Nather 2).
Equal rights for all including those with disabilities, is often an important issue during an election year. I…

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