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Technological advances for the Disabled in South Africa

 People with disabilities face various challenges in life, such as difficulties with mobility, hearing, vision, and communication. Technology has made significant strides to assist persons with disabilities, and these advancements continue to grow. 

Assistive technology and medical advancements have been made to improve the lives of persons with disabilities worldwide. South Africa is no exception and has a range of solutions available for persons with various types and disability levels. 

Visual impairments:

 Visual impairment affects people differently, and various technical devices have been developed to assist these persons depending on their degree of impairment. Sensory Solutions is a company that provides numerous options for South Africans, and their products range from electronic magnifiers and large print keyboards to Braille printers. They also provide training and guidance on which product is relevant to a specific person’s needs. 

Hearing impairments:

 Hearing impairments require individualised solutions. The technology for hearing aids has improved over the past decade, and new rechargeable lithium-ion battery-powered hearing aids are now on the market and available in South Africa. 

If hearing aids are still insufficient, a person may be a candidate for a cochlear implant. This is a system that restores hearing by bypassing the damaged part in the ear and sending signals/vibrations directly to the hearing nerve. 

Sign language courses can also be found both online and at universities such as the University of the Free State, the University of the Witwatersrand, and the University of the North West. 

There are many institutes across the country that will be able to assist with your specific hearing impairment. 

Physical disability:

 A wide range of physical disabilities can be caused by accidents, diseases, and brain damage. These disabilities can range from muscle stiffness and partial inhibition of physical function through amputees to paraplegia. 

Clinihealth provides a variety of mobility aids such as crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs to meet individual needs. In addition to mobility aids, prosthetics are also available in South Africa. 

Roland Toogood Prosthetics and Orthotist as well as Deist and Associates Prosthetics Centre are two companies that provide prosthetic solutions. Deist and Associates have even assisted clients to travel to Scotland to receive a Bionic limb. 

Roland Toogood Prosthetics and Orthotist offers a breast prosthesis for those who have undergone a mastectomy, providing an alternative option for those who would prefer not to undergo another surgery. 

For people who require rehabilitation, Roland Toogood Prosthetics and Orthotist has a rehab facility to equip and train them for life with their disability. 

Accessibility

While these technological solutions have improved the lives of persons with disabilities in South Africa, accessibility remains a challenge due to the high cost of the products. Accessibility to these solutions is not equal for all South Africans, with working or professional individuals having better access to impairment solutions. It highlights the need for a more inclusive society that can cater to all individuals regardless of their financial situation. 

In conclusion, South Africa has witnessed remarkable technological advancements that have brought forth a multitude of solutions catering to individuals with disabilities, be it visual, hearing, or physical impairments. These advancements have paved the way for people to lead lives that are both independent and fulfilling. Although accessibility remains a challenge, there is a heartfelt optimism that strides towards inclusivity will continue to be made, ensuring that everyone can benefit from these exceptional solutions. 

References

(n.d.). Retrieved from CliniHealth: https://www.clinihealth.co.za/products-catalogue/mobility-aids/ 

(n.d.). Retrieved from RolandToogoog: https://rolandtoogood.co.za/mastectomy-breast-prosthesis/ 

Deist and Associates. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.deistorthotists.co.za/bionics-i-limb 

Ear institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://earinstitute.co.za/ 

https://sensorysolutions.co.za/. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sensory Solutions: https://sensorysolutions.co.za/ 

Jerry J. Shih, D. J. (2012). Brain-Computer Interfaces in Medicine. Mayo Clin Proc. 

Rutgers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kines.rutgers.edu/dshw/disabilities/physical/1060-physical-disabilities 

Surona Visagie, E. S. (2020). Assistive technology service delivery in South Africa. Retrieved from Health Systems trust: https://www.hst.org.za/publications/South%20African%20Health%20Reviews/SAHR_Chapter%2012_15122020_Final.pdf 

www.gao.gov. (2022, September 08). Retrieved from U.S. Government Accountability Office: https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-22-106118# 

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