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OPINION: Technology Crucial to Daily Life for Many with Disabilities

Living with a disability you see a lot of things, some highs and most certainly some lows, but I'm the type of a person who always want to focus on the impressive things individuals are capable of doing. One of the universal things I am aware of is the cost for everything for medical supplies for the individuals or families who have loved ones with some form of a disability.

You, the reader who is reading this article in the Portsmouth Daily Times may not be aware of this, but I am typing this on an $8,500 communication device. Prices for any type of equipment to aid people who have disabilities are outrageous. It's not only medical equipment, it’s also therapy families require. I'm definitely not an expert when it comes of knowing of what different things cost, but the cost for therapy to aid a family’s autistic child is out of pocket and is not covered by their insurance. Thus, it costs them thousands of dollars throughout their loved one's life. 

When I was asked by Scioto County Developmental Disabilities to write for the Times periodically, I was asked to write about my thoughts and feelings about different things happening within the disabled community. I'm not here crying “Why me?” – that is not what I am about –  but I do question things that don’t make any sense. Communication devices, laptops, tablets and most certainly cell phones are widespread throughout of this world and one may pay a couple hundred dollars for one. I do have a problem with this scenario. Why do people with disabilities have to pay outrageous prices for things they need, not for things that they want – things that they need?

Medicaid is out there and I totally appreciate them for assisting me with acquiring my communication devices and power wheelchairs, for without Medicaid or Medicare many families would be stuck without any assistive technologies. But we have to use common sense at times, how do laptops and smart phones cost $500 and some communication devices cost $8500 or more?  

The only logical conclusion I can come up with is supply and demand, which shouldn't be the case. For me, the use of a communication device is the difference between day and night. After I received my first computer my life dramatically changed for the better. I went off to college, became an advocate for the disabled community, I'm writing articles for the paper about my thoughts and feelings. All of these things would not happen if I didn't have a way of communicating.

People are in need of certain items in their lives, they shouldn't be penalized with how much equipment costs. 

I know I probably won't change a thing with this article; however, sometimes I don't think our voices are heard at times. That is why I'm here, hopefully to shed some light on things. Whoever is in charge of making different items for the disabled community should be aware of their consumers and not to jack prices up, especially when they require it to function throughout life. 

(Adams is a self-advocacy specialist at STAR, Inc., and a former president of People First of Ohio. Reach him at badams@sciotostar.org.)

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