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IDIC: Ability Through Technology

Futuristic hallway with text reading "Ability through Technology"

One of the great things about Star Trek is that it doesn’t erase disability. There is no magic cure for all diseases, congenital disabilities, and more. Instead, technology adapts and compensates so these individuals can enjoy their lives.

A prime example is a key character in The Next Generation, Geordi LaForge. He was born blind, and while the show writers could have erased it in many ways, they didn’t. Instead, we saw the VISOR in almost every show for multiple seasons.

The theme continued. Medicine could do marvelous things, like replace Worf’s spine or Picard’s heart. However, there is no miracle cure for things that are, and the characters have to adapt to that reality.

Even jumping time several centuries later doesn’t yield miracle cures that remove disability. The Aurellio storyline with actor Kenneth Mitchell is a crossover. Kenneth Mitchell has ALS, and the character’s wheelchair use actually mirrors his own. In Star Trek, accessibility goes beyond the screen.

Over and over again, there are possible fixes that would just erase the disabilities experienced by the crews or the individuals they encounter out in the galaxy. Instead, the shows demonstrate compassion, individuality, and understanding.

While disability is not generally erased in Star Trek (Julian Bashir excluded, of course), it is something that our modern world does. There are so many circumstances where technology can compensate for disabilities, but it’s not considered a reasonable option.

For example, many folks with visual disabilities use screen readers. Only recently have screen readers been built into common applications like web browsers or document editors. The thing is that change benefits everyone.

Building an accessible world and using technology is everyone’s job. Technology goes beyond the latest AI update and can genuinely help our fellow humans enjoy their lives rather than just making it through.

Even if we’re not directly affected, we can add our voice to the technology being used so everyone has access to our events, meetings, and more.

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