Making Work Possible for More People Using Assistive Technologies

Reprint from Marlin

With the national unemployment rate below 4.0%, businesses across the country are becoming more diverse and accommodating to a wider array of employees.

More older employees are remaining on the job to stay active and engaged as they bolster retirement savings. In addition, many disabled individuals seek employment opportunities and welcome efforts by employers to make the workplace accessible and inclusive. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities is 20.9%.[1]  Physical impairments tend to increase with age, so the proportion of older workers with disabilities is increasing as well.[2]

Assistive technologies help physically impaired workers perform job tasks they otherwise might not be able to do. Several kinds of assistive technologies are in use, including voice recognition software, ergonomic keyboards, screen magnifiers and microphone headsets.[3]

Innovative companies are creating new forms of assistive technologies to help disabled workers adapt and perform their duties effectively. Emerging technologies include:

·                                 Low-cost smart phone apps help visually impaired workers identify colors and distinguish currency denominations. [4]

·                                 Small cameras mounted on eyeglasses convert visual information into spoken language and convey it to the wearer through a small built-in speaker. The technology also stores facial images to help users quickly identify individuals.[5]

·                                 Visually impaired workers can access a remote personal assistant service such as Aira to navigate city streets, transit systems, and home and office environments, and perform certain tasks. The service is accessible through smart glasses equipped with a microphone and camera.[6]

·                                 Technology companies are testing self-driving wheelchairs in airports and hospitals.[7] Smartphone apps are used to summon the wheelchairs and designate destinations. Researchers envision workers using them to link to scooters and other transportation modes in a comprehensive autonomous mobility system.[8]

[1] Statistics cited on the website of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Jan. 23, 2018. Available at:

[2] “Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary,” economic news release issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 21, 2017. Available at:

[3] “Using Assistive Technology in the Workplace,” by Sadie Hagberg, guest blogger from AbleData, Social Security Administration Ticket to Work website, Aug, 21, 2017. Available at:

[4] “New Assistive Technologies Aid Employees with Disabilities,” by Dave Zielinski, Society for Human Resource Management blog, Dec. 20, 2016. Available at:

[5] “New Assistive Technologies Aid Employees with Disabilities,” by Dave Zielinski, Society for Human Resource Management blog, Dec. 20, 2016. Available at:

[6] “Three Life-Changing Technologies at the 2017 Assistive Technology Conference,” by Amanda Davis, , The Institute blog, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), March 10, 2017. Available at:

[7] “Self-Driving Wheelchairs Debut in Hospitals and Airports,” by Megan Scudellari, Spectrum blog, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), Aug. 17, 2017. Available at:

[8] “Driverless-vehicle options now include scooters,” by Larry Hardesty, MIT News, Nov. 7, 2016. Available at:

This news is provided as a service to you by Marlin Business Services Corp., a nationwide leader in commercial lending solutions for the U.S. small business sector. Marlin’s equipment financing and loan programs are available directly and through third-party vendor programs, including manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers, to deliver financing and working capital that help build your success.

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