The Role of Assistive Devices and Accessible Technology

Lessons from Alegría in the Canary Islands

Alegría (pseudonym) is a 72-year-old woman with deafblindness from the Canary Islands, Spain. She is almost completely blind and can hear with a hearing aid if spoken to loudly and as long as there is no background noise.

When Alegría goes out on her own, she uses a pedestrian device that is installed at the pedestrian crossing which, when activated, makes a sound audible to her to indicate when it is safe for her to cross the road. This sound activation tool is essential to Alegría’s safety and independence as well as her ability to move around freely and independently. Unfortunately, not all traffic lights in her area have this system activated, and there is more that can be done to make the streets more accessible to people like Alegría. She often relies on an interpreter-guide/Deafblind interpreter or family member, as they provide useful information that goes beyond street crossings and if she is taking a route not supported by the pedestrian device.

 Alegría received training and support from local OPDs on how to live independently, including advice on navigating with her red and white cane and training her memory to learn new routes, which builds self-confidence. She also received free, one-to-one training on using accessible technology. For example, she uses a screen reader and a voice-activated command on her mobile phone. She also uses voice-activated virtual assistant technology to check the weather, play a song, or set reminders.

She has been able to participate in online social gatherings that use accessible video calling software, which helps her to connect with others and to stimulate her memory and cognition. One of the activities she enjoys the most is joining her weekly online reading club. Prior to each meeting, Alegría reads the assigned book using an audiobook device. She then shares her thoughts with the moderator and other members.

These are just some of the examples of accessibility features, assistive devices, accessible technologies, and programmes to facilitate independence of persons with deafblindness.

Explore other Use Cases from around the world:

Skip to content