Blake Dowling: Senate Bill 772 — Time to help

in Statewide/Top Headlines by
Blake Dowling and the team at Gretchan Everhart

One of the first columns I ever put together was on assistive technology for those who need it for communication. It was based on a 60 Minutes expose highlighting the power of a tablet to open doors to those who, for most of their lives, have been unable to communicate.

Since then, I have written on the topic several times.

But for that first one, it was about six years ago; I was just married and had been sitting on 30A eating stone crab claws. On the TV, Tebow and the Broncos were pulling a miracle win against the Dolphins.

Dave Hodges, my editor at the time, texted me suddenly; he needed my column that night.

So, I pulled out my iPad and hammered something out.

The color and functionality of the tablet crossed boundaries, offering something truly powerful to a part of our community in need.

I recently reviewed some testimony and information on Senate Bill 772, sponsored by Lorraine Ausley, sent over the weekend — I would love to put it out there so our elected officials can make this bill a reality.

If you have ever spent any time at a school like Gretchen Everhart in North Florida or get to know kids with special needs, you understand how valuable these tools are in their lives.

If you have seen how these tools change lives, you would easily make this effort a reality.

I was emailing James Harding, Instructional Specialist at Florida State University’s College of Business who also serves as the Chair of the Public Policy Committee for the Florida Alliance of Assistive Services Technology (FAAST).

Harding had this to say about the revisions to the legislation: “Technology has been a game changer not only for business but has been vital in tearing down barriers for work, fun, and independence for persons with disabilities.”

This bill is simply a natural extension of existing law; it will empower the next generation to secure their place in an ever-changing world and to ensure that they have tools they need to maintain their independence.

To gain a better understanding of why accessible technology is so important, he urges everyone to watch the recent testimony provided by members of the disabled community using text to speech technology.

The message was profoundly heard.

It is simply good public policy, and we are very grateful the leadership of Ausley and our other elected officials.

Below is some recent testimony from individuals that use assistive technology.

A link to Jennifer‘s testimony: https://youtu.be/ABwQNBrPMs0

A link to Michael Phillips‘ testimony: https://youtu.be/NYaaaLMPKvs

If you made it this far I would like to thank you for reading about this important issue and if you have the ability to do something about it, make it happen because helping others be able to help themselves should always be our top priority.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com or at www.aegisbiztech.com