Chu-Lan and New Technologies

George and Chu-Lan Beach

Writing By Regina Revazova

Because of George’s conflicting schedule once he had to come to the interview with his daughter Chu-Lan. She was asked to stay quiet for a long and boring talk of the two adults. Who could imagine an eight-year-old sitting silently in the small puffy library chair at the corner of overly quite study room? But she heroically went through this long interview with her father with the help of his iPad. The iPad constantly produced soft musical background sound as the little girl held her new toy and slid her tiny fingers over the screen.  “Turn the sound down please,” he said to her, and the music vanished from our radar.

“The main focus of assistive technologies is about development of the resources of the state, extending them, creating them, enhancing them, especially in the modern world,” says her dad. “What was 10 years pre cycle in technology now is a two or three year cycle. Indeed sometimes six month at a time quite dramatic changes are occurring.”

Children’s toys may also be great personality-enabling tools for people with any physical disabilities, whether it is visual impairment or quadriplegia, and her or his productivity. Chu-Lan might not think about it, but George is technologically savvy and he asserts that while the technologies evolve fast, the government machine is too rigid and slow to provide adequate access for disabled people to something newly invented that might dramatically change their lives.

“I don’t believe in no government; it is like believing in no civilization,” says George. “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 the great world of literature. But, how about a big professional dream? What would it be? George 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 he doesn’t think that he views 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.”