Technology can help change lives. A Honolulu nonprofit, Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaii, works to teach people with disabilities, and senior citizens, how to better use technology to reach their goals.
Retired federal worker Eileen Hawayaka is getting a lesson from trainer Jason Julian in how to adjust a computer. “I need certain fonts, colors, whatever, even the websites. Color contrast and all,” she explains.
68-year-old Hayakawa has a congenital disorder that doctors say leaves her legally blind. She needs to alter the computer’s settings. “The different features such as enlarging, moving around the screen, adjusting different characteristics of the screen.”
She came to Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaii, or ATRC, for help. It opened in 1991, and its mission is “making sure individuals with disabilities, and also people who are aging, becoming senior citizens, have access to technology that will allow them to do the things they want to do,” says executive director Barbara Fischlowitz-Leong.
The technology also extends to personal care. For example, these stabilizing utensils are for people whose hands shake, sometimes caused by arthritis or Parkinson’s Disease.
Another service ATRC offers is to go to some client’s homes and familiarize them with the home automation concept. For example, the app named Alexa can turn on a light using a voice command.
Fischlowitz-Leong points out, “Something as simple as being able to feed yourself is important.”
Hayakawa says she’s grateful, and that this is worth the drive in from her Pearl City home. “It’s been a pleasant, helpful experience.”
Fischlowitz-Leong adds that she hopes to see a law passed one day that would require insurance to cover assistive technology. “It allows individuals with disabilities and seniors to be in control over their life and be able to remain independent, if that’s their choice.”
She says keeping technology affordable will help those who need it, live their best lives.