It isn’t every day that a group of people with quadriplegia gather in a Fort Smith Victorian mansion to talk about the impact of technology on their lives, but that is what happened on November 2nd. Here are some tidbits from that day.
George Fosnaught, one of our clients told me: “I enjoyed the Clayton House event because I was able to meet people interested in assistive technologies and talk with others who are using technology to achieve their goals. One of the most interesting things that I had not been aware of, was that each of us (with similar disabilities) prefers different assistive technologies. I also enjoyed the opportunity to demonstrate how we used the technology to one another and the businesses and agencies present.”
My favorite moment was when I walked into the front parlor of the mansion and saw three guys George, Martin Willems, and Wes, in wheelchairs demonstrating computer access technologies to a bunch of able-bodied folks. The technology was the “shared experience” that made the social interaction comfortable and it was clear who the experts were! For one evening, everyone gathered around people who can only move their heads to learn about what is possible and important. People are important.
I went to another room and there was Billy and both of his aunts! There was a group of people from Arvest Bank visiting with him and watching Erik (one of our engineers) demonstrate the new communication software he and Billy designed. I looked at Billy and said “how about next year you demonstrate your software?” He looked up earnestly to say “yes!”
My best guess is that 70 people came to our event. I found it special because the house was filled with people at their best, caring about one another. Here’s how George saw it: “The more we can spread the word and get folks to understand that those of us that are severely disabled can still have a quality of life along with a productive life, the better all would be.” Well said, George.