Disabilities vs. Different Abilities

by Edward Henkler on March 24, 2015

While I hope you find my posts insightful and entertaining, I also know from personal experience that it’s sometimes nice to have a brief post. With that in mind, I wanted to share two quick examples of why disabilities are better described as different abilities. One story is low tech and the other high tech but both highlight the possibilities.

I became aware of the first story via a Google Alert. If you don’t use them, they’re an amazing way to tap into the global news network. A study conducted at Essen University in Germany rather conclusively demonstrated that women who are blind are more effective at detecting breast cancer than doctors. Women conducting self-exams typically didn’t detect anything less than 2cm and doctors fared a bit better, detecting tumors between 1 and 2cm. Women who were blind detected tumors between 6 and 8mm in size, outperforming everyone else. You can read more here.

My second story is about an enabling technology company called BrainPort. Quoting from their website, this technology translates digital information from a video camera into gentle electrical stimulation patterns on the surface of the tongue. Users feel moving bubble-like patterns on their tongue which they learn to interpret as the shape, size, location and motion of objects in their environment.



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