George McKinlay: Enabling People Through AT

Writing By Regina Revazova

“I don’t believe in no government; it is like believing in no civilization,” says George McKinlay. “But what the issue is these days is that the government is abdicating its responsibility. Or there is the wrong government when it comes to working on behalf of the people. Instead they are purely subservient to economic interests. You can look at productivity from the market perspective from the standpoint of being efficient, but I don’t think the market really truly defines our human experience.”

So, working with people with disabilities on the one hand, enriching their lives, and wrestling with government agencies on the other. Is that all? How about any big dream? Not that one, where George wants to live in Mexico at the edge of one endless ocean or the other, dedicating his time to self-education through great world of literature. But, how about a big professional dream? What would it be? Georges has more than one. The first you could call purely humanistic driven, and another is, well, the same.

“I would like to be in the place when we develop new tools, and those tools would have potentially wider base of users.” He refers to assistive technologies as “tools”. He wishes to get rid of this nasty medical term. “Tools, in order to participate in literacy, should be free and available to anybody. So I don’t think that I view it as a special item.”

Human-oriented interface of tools is something that George is also fascinated with. “But people don’t know what they need, they want to be told what they need. I don’t like that because I think they need to create the tools themselves. Human interface design was something I was always interested in. I’ve always believed that technology has to be human-defined. And I hated it when a technology or a society decides for you what you can do. You have to be a master of your own tools. And learning is one of the tools. It is both creativity, recreation, survival – you name it. It involves every aspect of our lives. I view this essentially as a requirement for universal access.”