The answer? Everything.
Modern information and communication technologies have given us the freedom to adopt new skills, gain more knowledge, become self-employed and more. The Internet has made the transfer of information faster than ever and keep us connected to our inner network of close friends and family as well as the world. Since the first version of Tecla (Tecla Shield Uno) was released in 2012, there are now thousands of users in 33 different countries who rely on Tecla to access their personal devices, hands-free. The stories of our users are all unique, so we'd like to share just a few that really stand out.
1. Christopher writes, films and edits movies on Youtube
Christopher Hills is a tech-savvy young man from Australia who was born with cerebral palsy. Using Tecla and the accessibility feature Switch Control on his Apple devices, Christopher creates and edits videos about assistive technology and accessibility on Youtube. In the video above, Christopher introduces a short film he wrote with a behind-the-scenes look at Christopher wishing he had the ability to record his own videos. He soon realizes that while he cannot hold the camera, he can certainly record a film. With the help of assistive technology, Christopher controls a drone with a camera attached to it through his iPhone so that he successfully writes, records, directs, edits and acts in the film completely hands-free.
Wish you had the skills to edit your professional or personal videos like Christopher? Christopher owns and operates his own video consulting business - and can do it for you!
2. David Participates in Social Media
David Thomas is a Quality Assurance Analyst and Social Media Guru living in British Columbia. David was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and uses Tecla to access his personal technology. Social media has become an important medium to share stories, visual content and discuss issues in our communities and the world. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have built-in features that make the platform accessible and opens up the forum to hear everyone's voice. David offered his creative support to Tecla in creating the hashtag: #TakenByTecla to represent photos taken on a Tecla user's smartphone or tablet with an assistive switch. We're inspired by David knowing Tecla enables him to continue his hobby of photography and share his experiences with the world!
3. Carolyn Uses Ride-Sharing Services
Before Carolyn became a Tecla user, getting around the city was tedious and costly as a person with a spinal cord injury. Carolyn would have to call taxis in advance to ensure there was an accessible vehicle available, and the company would often charge her a flat rate for her ride regardless of the distance due to her disability. Now that Carolyn has hands-free access to a smartphone, she can call an Uber WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) whenever she needs one through the app. Another bonus? Uber allows hands-free payments, making it easier for Carolyn to get a lift independently. When products and services are designed with one demographic in mind, many people get left on the sidelines of the digital revolution. Internet access opens the door to opportunities for participation that were previously closed to people with quadriplegia.
4. Todd Has a High-Tech Smart Home
Todd Stabelfeldt's (aka The Quadfather) home may look like a place of the future, but smart home technology has come a far way in the past decade. Now, smart devices that control lighting, appliances, security systems and more provide Todd with the independence to perform daily tasks that were once impossible with a spinal cord injury. Technology is redesigning how we control our environment, which is why the new tecla-e is compatible with smart home technologies - so that people like Todd can control their homes independently.
After Ian MacKay's bike accident left him as a C4 quadriplegic, Ian felt like he had lost the connection with nature that he once had. Tecla enabled Ian to rediscover his adventurous side by giving him peace of mind in getting outside and exploring on his own. Ian's ability to stay connected to his smartphone gave him the confidence to access the outdoors again and in 2016, completed a journey across Washington in his wheelchair. Ian used the mobile app Strava to record his distance which totalled 335.4 miles, took over 10 days and was completed in 53 hours and 18 minutes.
When Owen McGirr first developed the app SayIt!, it was for personal use. Owen was born with cerebral palsy and has a speech impairment that makes verbal communication difficult. SayIt! is a switch-accessible communication software that gives a voice to people with speech impairments. Owen has said “I've had some very positive feedback from users and speech therapists alike. The main objective is to provide an affordable but professional solution to everyone.” Tecla made it possible for Owen to pursue his passion for coding and he developed something incredible that has improved his own life and lives of others with speech impairments and quadriplegia.
7. Neil is a Gamer
Neil is a quadriplegic graphic designer and tech-lover living in Toronto. He has been using Tecla since discovering the original Tecla Shield Uno in 2012. We invited Neil to test Pokémon GO's accessibility using point mode in Apple's switch control. Not only did Neil have fun playing Pokémon GO through Tecla, but he was also pleased to know that the popular app was accessible with a bit of accommodation.
Whatever it is you want to accomplish with technology, Tecla can provide hands-free access to people for whom technology is inaccessible. Comment below with a story of what technology has allowed your or someone you know to achieve.