Accessible technology for people with Cerebral Palsy

Image of David Harraway, Occupational Therapist in Yooralla's ComTEC team.

Every World Cerebral Palsy Day (October 6), we ask people around the world to come together to celebrate and support those living with cerebral palsy, embrace diversity and to help create a more accessible future for everyone.

This year’s theme of World CP Day ‘Millions of Reasons’, refers to the millions of individuals who make up the CP community and the expertise they can offer around accessible technology solutions – as we search for the next breakthrough accessible technology.

We support many clients with CP with their accessible technology needs – particularly through the work of Yooralla’s Allied Services and Wellbeing teams, including our communication technology experts – ComTEC.

David Harraway, Occupational Therapist in Yooralla’s ComTEC team, says that CP is one of the number one diagnostic groups of the clients ComTEC support, with speech pathologists and OTs working together to support clients with CP.

“People with CP can have movement difficulties, difficulties with vision, language, cognition and more, and technology can assist with all of those needs.”

“We figure out the ways that work with clients that allow them to use technology. We find the right tools and strategies that are going to allow that person to do the things that are important to them and to increase their independence, through ‘achieving mastery’ of communication or control of things around the house.”

“People are experts in their own life…we connect to the person and build trust, finding out what works for them and their support network.”

“That is the unique aspect of ComTEC at Yooralla, speech pathologists and OTs work together with the person with disability and their wider supports as a team to explore and trial Assistive Technology options to meet their needs,” said David.

Through their work not just with people with CP but across a range of disability, David has seen firsthand how accessible technology can empower people with disability and reduce any barriers they may face.

“Technology builds bridges. We work with people with CP to set up technology that allows them to control their lives. Some technology can provide them with more than one thing. It can be used for something now, and something later,” said David.

Such was the case for Scottie, who was initially using his Eye-Gaze technology to control things around his house, such as turning his TV on and off, adjusting the TV volume and turning his heater on and off, but has since upskilled – using the same technology to communicate with the people around him. Read more about Scottie’s Eye Gaze Communication Aid.

Image of Scottie, and his Yooralla Support Worker, using his Eye Gaze Communication Aid.

“That is the virtue of tech. It reduces the barries for people with CP – it levels the playing field and creates opportunities for new ways of doing things.”

“You can start technology in one place, learn the skills to use it then keep building. The sky is the limit!” said David.

Want to read more about how accessible technology is supporting those with CP? Read this story, written by client Tim Jong: How my communication device allows me to converse with my peers.

In the lead up to World CP Day, people from across the globe have been submitting their ideas for new and innovative accessible technology. You can view all the accessible technology ideas on the Millions of Reasons website.

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