Do you know someone who has a physical or mental disability? Chances are you probably do, because there are many people all around the world who face special challenges every day.

Fortunately, many of these people quickly learn that they don’t have to focus on their disabilities. Instead, if they focus on their abilities, they realize that they have unique and special talents that they can use to enrich the lives of others.

Some people have chosen to use their special abilities to create solutions for the problems that people with disabilities face. Disabilities that might have once prevented people from doing a wide range of things now no longer stand in their way thanks to a variety of technological advances.

And who doesn’t like technology? Technology is great. For most people, technology means you can do more in less time and have fun while doing it. Technology is in many ways like its own form of entertainment.

However, for people with disabilities, technology can be so much more than just entertainment. It can change their lives. It can help them learn and enable them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.

For example, recent advances in technology have given us a wide variety of laptop and tablet computers. In a school setting, these technological marvels allow children with learning disabilities to play educational games that help them learn and retain information that traditional teaching methods haven’t achieved.

And there are plenty more examples of even more amazing technology at work in the world today. Did you know that today’s smartphones can help blind people use applications that identify money and read their emails aloud?

Text-to-speech technology allows mute people to type the words they want to speak. Speech-to-text technology allows the deaf to read the words they can’t hear.

For those people who can’t type on a computer keyboard or use a smartphone’s touch screen, voice command technology allows them to control these devices with the sound of their voice. Voice command technology is also being used in a wide variety of other products, from cars to e-readers, to allow people with disabilities greater access to these devices.

So what does the future hold for technology for people with disabilities? You might be amazed at some of the advances you’ll see in your lifetime. Visually-impaired people will be able to use GPS-enabled devices to guide them safely. In fact, they might even be able to drive cars that basically drive themselves with the help of advanced computer systems!

Physically handicapped people will also see amazing advances in wheelchair technology. Prototypes already exist for wheelchairs that can climb stairs. Even more amazing wheelchairs are on the horizon, though.

Scientists are currently working on advanced computer systems that can analyze brain waves. They believe that they will one day be able to use these systems to allow people with total paralysis to operate wheelchairs with nothing more than their thoughts!

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  1. I think it would be hard to control because your thinking to much because it is so cool you have never driven in it and it the first time you have seen it.

    I think tommorow’s wonder is delicious turtle soup!!!!

    BYE-BYE!!!!!!!!! :) :)

    • Hi Grace, we agree that it would be a difficult mode of transportation to maneuver in the beginning. However, we bet with lots of practice and care technology can become a part of someone’s life, especially if it’s helping him or her overcome obstacles! We remember when we first learned to ride bikes here at Wonderopolis– it was tough at first but with a lot of practice and patience, we are cycling fools! :)

  2. I really liked today’s wonder. I did not know electricity can do that!! I think that tommorow’s wonder is going to be about a turtle that does tricks.

    • WOHOO, we love your enthusiasm for today’s technology Wonder, Ethan B! We think learning about new, innovative ways to use technology is exciting– there are so many possibilities! We like your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder– we can’t wait to use our imaginations with you soon! :)

  3. It is my first time at wonderopolis. I hope I get this prediction right I think tommorow’s wonder is about a turtle fruit snack.

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Ethan B! We are THRILLED that you’re WONDERing with us, it’s so much fun! We hope you can use your ESP to guess tomorrow’s Wonder– we will see tomorrow! Have a SUPER day! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment today, Cade768! We are happy that you’re WONDERing about technology with us today. We agree– it would take a great amount of skill and trial and error to create a wheelchair so smart! However, we think that technology will help the world become smarter, too! We are glad you’re here today– see you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Great guess! We are all smiles to learn that Ms. Bayko’s class is WONDERing with us today! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will bring! Have a great day using your AWESOME imaginations! :)

  4. I think that that some technology that can read your brain waves are rather peculiar. If it just senses your brain waves, does it really get your exact directions? I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day® is: How hard is turtle’s shell? :)

    • Great point, Siddman! We love that you’re doing some WONDERing of your own about technology! There is so much to learn and understand– and it is moving forward so quickly, too! We think it depends on the type of technology you are using that determines how specific the directions would be. However, our brain communicates with the rest of our body to do nearly everything– just like moving your hand or jumping up. If our brain can tell our body to do that through technology, the technology becomes a sort of extension of our body. We are so glad you commented today– you’ve made us think about technology, too! Great guess for tomorrow- we can’t wait to find out if you’re right! :)

    • WOHOO, we are so excited that onlinefreespanish is WONDERing with us today! We so glad that you have learned something new about the ways technology can help others overcome challenges. Have a SUPER day! :)

  5. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We never knew that such a special hat existed that could control your brain waves. We were wondering how long it took the engineers to develop this technology. One student’s family makes braces to assist people with walking. We thought this was a neat connection with today’s wonder!

    We think tomorrow’s wonder is about: chocolate turtles, turtle sundae, or a turtle molded-shaped watermelon. :)

    • Hello to the WONDERful 4th graders in Mrs. Wall’s class! We love learning about technology that helps others with disabilities to accomplish what they couldn’t before! We Wonder if you can do some more research about how long it took the engineers to devise this wheelchair– we bet there were MANY prototypes!

      Thank you for sharing your connection to today’s Wonder– we Wonder if you’ve been able to see the braces in person? We think they would be very interesting to see– and understanding how they are used! Thank you for WONDERing with us– we are so lucky to use our imaginations with great students like you!

      We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be! :)

  6. Dear Wonderopolis,

    It is cool how the computer can read your mind waves and send it to the motor in the wheelchair. We are wondering what is the top speed of the wheelchair? Who decided to create this kind of wheelchair? Today is Wonder Wednesday in our classroom. Everyone chose a favorite question from your website and Mrs. Johnson compiled a list. She is going to put it on our class website so that we can go back and look at more wonders at home or at school. Thanks for the great question today.

    Mrs. Johnson’s fourth grade

    • There are so many great questions coming from the SUPER students in Mrs. Johnson’s fourth grade class– way to go! :) Wonder Wednesday seems like a great time– it gives us all a chance to sit back, use our imaginations and WONDER our way through the day!

      We love all your questions and challenge you, Wonder Friends, to do some research of your own about the wheelchair itself. We can’t wait to see all your comments come through as Wonder Wednesdays continue– so very exciting! :)

    • WOHOO, we’re so happy that you enjoyed today’s technology video and Wonder! Technology, especially when it assists others when overcoming challenges, is SUPER AWESOME! Have a great day, Eric! :)

    • Pretty incredible Wonder, isn’t it Emma! Can you imagine yourself directing a wheelchair with your brain waves? We think it’s SUPER awesome to learn about the cool and helpful technology out there– thanks for commenting today! :)

    • Hi there Grace, we Wonder if you are interested in learning about certain types of technology– maybe we can Wonder together! :)

    • Hello our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Foster’s class! Thank you for sharing your comment with us today– what a great question! This particular advanced wheelchair is being tested by research scientists in Japan right now, but hopefully these scientists will share their knowledge to help those in other countries!

      Have a SUPER day! :)

    • Hi there Unknownking2079! We think it’s SUPER that you’ve been doing some WONDERing of your own about technology and the ways it can help others! We Wonder what other types of ideas you might have to assist those with disabilities? Great work, Wonder Friend! :)

  7. Hello Wonderopolis!

    Technology is AWESOME! Today, we learned that:

    1. There will be wheelchairs that can go up stairs.
    2. SMART phones can help blind and deaf people complete day to day tasks.
    3. Wheelchairs that can be controlled by the mind.

    Questions we still have: How can computers see brain waves? Does all technology help people with disabilities in at least one way? What are all the ways a SMART phone help blind people?

    This WONDER helped our creative thoughts begin working…who knows what we will come up with….:)

    • We agree– technology IS awesome, just like the students on Team Caisse Reading Class! :)

      We love that you shared the top three things you’ve learned today– technology is evolving and changing each day, but it can do some much good! We Wonder if you can use your imagination and think about the different ways technology helps people. You can do some WONDERing of your own and research your awesome questions, too!

      Thank you for joining us today– we can’t wait to Wonder with you soon! :)

  8. I love the new wonder. I think that the possibility of wheelchairs climbing up stairs is amazing. I love the things that technology do!!!! I really hope that one day we will be able to create even BETTER things with technology.

    • Thanks Jake, we love your ENTHUSIASM for technology! Perhaps you will be inventing new types of helpful technology, like the scientist in the video! We bet you can do it if you put your WONDERful mind to it! :)

  9. I also think that tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about turtle soup or turtles eating delicous foods. It might be the candy turtle too with nuts and chocolate and carmel.

  10. I thought of a wonder for tomorrow, the wonder for tomorrow is…….

    “How long can you resist a puppy”

    Me? Not even 1 second…I LOVE THEM! :))))))))))))

    • Great idea for a Wonder, Mystery! We LOVE puppies, too! We can barely resist them, they’re just so cute! We hope you have a WONDERful day filled with puppies! :)

  11. If they have all this knowledge, what will the technology be in 20 years? dun dun dunnnnnnnn……. will there still be money in the next 20 years?

    • WOW, we are really proud of all the great WONDERing you’ve been doing, Squirrel! We can’t predict the future, but we bet there is some form of currency in the next 20 years, just like there has been for hundreds of years! :)

  12. I can only say one thing WOW! That’s so cool just think in 20 years if they have this kind of things now what were going to have in 20 years!!!!!

    • WOW is right, school is cool Wonder Friend! :) There is so much that technology can do so much to help others– we bet the next 20 years is going to have some amazing advancements! :)

  13. Hey wonderopolis!! :) What a lovely wonder of the day®! Technology is helping so many people live, like Stephan Hawking. I think technology is so amazing, what do you think when you hear the word ‘technology’?? Usually I thnk of iPods and phones but really I should think of Thomas Edison with the lightbulb and Galileo Galilei with the telescpoe! See you tomorrow! ;)

    • Wow, great job WONDERing Anna! We think that technology can mean lots of things… spaceships, lights, hearing aids and so much more! Thank you for joining us as we think outside the box and discover new and exciting technology! See you tomorrow, Wonder Friend! :)

  14. Hi Wonderopolis! Todays wonder was awesome! I am in a wheelchair all the time because I am too weak from chemo to walk. It would be so awesome if I got to use a thought powered wheelchair! Right now I am in chemo and I am on here. Bye from Rachel W.!

    • We are so glad that you enjoyed today’s Wonder, Rachel W! We hope you keep up the WONDERing, especially as technology is changing for the better each and every day! :)

  15. It is really amazing how they can make that sort of technology.

    There are a lot of forest fires around us and the smoke is hanging in the air.

    We were wondering why doesn’t smoke just rise up and up and up and disappear?

    • We are so happy that the AWESOME students at BV School are learning about technology today– thank you for posting! We are sorry to hear about the forest fires happening in your area– we Wonder if you can do some research of your own to find out where smoke and debris go.

      We think you’ll be interested in a past Wonder about forest fires. Take a look at Wonder #500 — What is a Smoke Jumper? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-a-smokejumper/ :)

    • We love technology too, Karla G! There is so much to WONDER about that we can’t stop smiling! We love your great idea that assists those who have vision problems, too! Keep up the great work! :)

  16. I have learned some new things about wheelchairs. First even though they may have physical disabilities, wheelchairs can really help their person live today a lot more than they use to. Also I learned that smart phones can help people who are blind. Some people choose their disablese and make there be a solution. But most importantly they can’t change their disabilities it’s the way he/she was born and if you have someone who is in a wheelchair you should accept that they have something to help them get around. I am very curious who made the first wheelchair and why they decided to make a wheelchair? I predict that tomorrow’s wonder will be about chocolate shaped turtles with Carmel and peanuts yum.

    • Great job summarizing our technology Wonder, Julies! Way to go! We think it’s great that you’re doing even MORE WONDERing about wheelchairs– who invented the wheelchair and why. We bet you can take that WONDERing even further by doing some research of your own! :)

      We hope you enjoy the next day’s delicious Wonder, too! :)

    • We bet you’re a great bike rider, Grace! We hope you had a good time today as we WONDERed about all the exciting technology out there– we will see you soon! :)

  17. Wow I can’t belive there are brain wave sensored wheelchairs. I have learned a ton today about smart wheelchairs. I have learned that their are wheelchairs that can read brain waves to go the direction they are programmed to go at that time. Also I have learned that Toyota is a part of this amazing project but is not using the technology for cars. You guys probably know I go in threes so my final thing I learned is that it is projected for wheelchaires to become more advanced than ever before. My question of the day is that will there ever be every day objects that will use this technology? If there already is well I’ll go out and buy it as soon as I see it. My prediction for tomorrow’s wonder is possibly the sloth, the slugs, or snails.

    • WOWZA, Matt D, you did a great job summarizing what you learned about technology and “smart” wheelchairs today! We are so proud of you! We can’t predict the future, but we imagine the advanced technology we WONDERed about today will be accessible in the future for everyone– especially when great scientists are working hard to come up with new ideas. Maybe you will become a technology scientist and you can create some exciting new products, too! We will see you tomorrow, Wonder Friend- great job! :)

  18. We love Wonderopolis! That is so cool and weird that people made these things. We would love to try one of these! Bye For Now!

    • We are super excited to see the AWESOME students in Miss Gardner’s Science Class WONDERing with us today! Thank you for stopping by to Wonder about technology with us– we will see you soon! :)

    • Thanks for joining the WONDERful fun, Alyssa! We are glad to have great Wonder Friends like you! We appreciate your comment! :)

  19. Hi
    I did not know that you could do the text to speech technology. I thought it was too high tech for the world. Thank you for the wonderful information.

    • Hi there, Sofia! We’re so glad you learned something new about the cool things happening in technology! Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend Sofia! We hope to see you soon! :)

  20. Dear Wonderopolis, hi it’s me again Ayejah I read the article How Does Technology Change Lives? It was very interesting. I did not know they had apps for the blind and deaf. I love Wonderopolis how would I read any articles if we had no technology? Anyways have you guys thought of a wonder for tomorrow? I hope it’s another fun one!
    Your friend,
    The article reader Ayejah ;)

    • Hey again, Ayejah! We’re so happy to hear that you have been WONDERing about technology lately! You make a great point, too, we wouldn’t be able to communicate right now if technology wasn’t available! We sure are glad technology is here, because we can visit with our awesome Wonder Friends! We Wonder what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be… check out our guess from the “Wonder What’s Next” section:
      “Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day may give you a split personality!” :)

  21. Hey wonderpolis! :) I’m too excited for the BRAINWAVES stuff. Imagine we can control thing withe our THOUGHTS! How cool was that! haha! If it is developed and will be successfull one day, maybe not just the disabled people can use that PEOPLE OF THE WORLD will use that technology too…! So much for that..YEAH TECHNOLOGY is GREAT it makes our everyday life more convenient and simple…It allows us to do everything. :)

    • WOOHOO for technology, Wonder Friend Kim! We like that you’re thinking about technology and the future! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! Keep using your imagination! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How does technology change lives?
  • What inventions have improved the lives of people with disabilities?
  • What could you invent to help people with disabilities?

Wonder Gallery

handicapped_shutterstock_90722764dreamstime_xl_39390620-customdreamstime_xl_36983905-customVimeo Video

Try It Out

Don’t let the learning end! Explore one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Has technology affected your life for the better? Talk with your parents about the technology they used when they were your age. How was it different than modern technology? Have fun reminiscing with them about past technology and how it compares to what you have access to today. Would you want to have lived “way back when”? Why or why not?
  • You don’t have to be disabled to have a better life because of technology. Keep a journal for one day. Write down every example you can think of throughout the day of how you use technology. At the end of the day, take stock of the ways in which you use technology. What things could you not do without the technology you used? What things were made much easier or convenient because of the technology you used? For example, finding directions might be super easy thanks to a GPS device. Likewise, looking up the answer to a tough question might only be possible with access to a computer connected to the Internet. What other examples can you think of?
  • Up for a challenge? Do you think you could invent new technology that in the future could help people with disabilities? We think you can do whatever you set your mind to! Do you have any friends at school with disabilities? How would you like to help them? What are some of the things that they have difficulty doing because of their disabilities? Have they ever told you that they wished they could do something in particular? What would you like to see them be able to do that they can’t do right now? These are the types of questions that can spark ideas that lead to new inventions in the future. If you’ve been inspired to think of a new invention, share it with all your Wonder Friends. Post a message on Facebook about what kind of invention you would like to see in the future. You never know when you might inspire someone else!

Still Wondering

Science NetLinks’ Wheelchairs audio update tells the story of an organization that counts on some of the world’s poorest countries to develop some of the most innovative new ideas.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day always comes out right side up!

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