Policy hearing identifies impacts of technological advancements on disabled community

A political audience identifies the impacts of technological advancements on the disability community

Conversation included in Disability Summit 2022 at Temple University

PHILADELPHIA, September 22– The House Democratic Policy Committee convened a hearing Thursday afternoon to explore the impacts of technological advancements on the disability community. The hearing was hosted by Rep. Joe Hohenstein (D-Philadelphia) at Temple University as part of its 2022 Disability Summit.

“As a member of the disability community, it was clear from today’s discussion that we need to be more involved in the conversations and working to advance technology. As the saying goes, “Nothing about us, without us,” said Hohenstein. “Today’s hearing was an important step towards resolving this oversight. We can take the points raised in today’s discussion and use them to advance change through legislation in Harrisburg.

Thursday’s panel discussion featured testimony from disability community advocates and technology experts. The conversation focused on three central ideas: the disability community needs to be more included in technological developments, more funding is needed for organizations that support assistive technology, and legislation needs to be passed to remove certain barriers. .

Neil McDevitt, executive director of the Deaf-Hearing Communication Center, noted that there is a lack of employment opportunities for the disability community, especially in the world of technology. He said solving this problem would mean better technology for everyone.

“The increase in the number of employees with disabilities will represent a powerful shift, not only in the user experience of technology, but also in the development of standards and requirements for future technology,” McDevitt said. “By moving the person with a disability from just an end user to an invested member of the team, the products will become better and more inclusive in the end.”

Witnesses also recommended increased funding for organizations that develop and support assistive technology for people with disabilities. Debbie Robinson and Suzanne Erb, both Pennsylvanians with disabilities and Speaking for Ourselves activists, want to live in a state where they can fully participate and contribute to their communities without issue.

“Imagine a state where we can easily use telemedicine, telecommuting and online shopping. Imagine a state where anyone with a disability can live a full life. For this image of Pennsylvania to become a reality, we must have adequate funding for these organizations so they can help people with disabilities communicate, travel, read and write, and contribute to our communities,” said Robinson and Erb.

TechOWL, Pennsylvania’s federally-designated Assitive Technology Act program, said increasing the organizations budget line in the state budget to $550,000 would ensure that every Pennsylvanian with a disability can be supported with technology to ‘assistance.

“I want to thank everyone for participating in this important discussion about how we can better benefit and include the disability community through advances in technology,” Hohenstein said. “I look forward to leading this conversation in Harrisburg and working with my colleagues across the way to have a positive impact on our Pennsylvanians.”

Full testimony from Thursday’s hearing is available here. Pictures will be available here.

Information about this hearing and other House Democratic Policy Committee hearings is available at pahouse.com/policy.

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