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Assistive Technology: Transforming the lives of people with a disability

Published on 06 April 2018
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  • Disability
Assistive-Technology-1.jpg YouTube sensation Christopher Hills says he’s optimistic about the future thanks to the use of ‘Assistive Technology’.

Christopher Hills may not have the use of his arms or legs, but he can do everyday tasks like shop online and use internet banking – all thanks to technology.

Although wheelchair bound, Christopher says he’s limited only by his imagination thanks to assistive technology that allows him to run his video editing business and communicate with others around the world.

Christopher and his carer, Dad Garry, are the guest presenters at our information session: ‘Technology and you – what can it look like?’

Hear from Christopher and Garry as they share their experiences about making the best use of technology, how it changed their lives and how it could work for you and your family.

Mel, a carer of three children on the autism spectrum, will also speak about how technology has helped her children to live more independently.

Christopher was born with athetoid cerebral palsy and is quadriplegic, which limits his ability to control muscle function and speech. While his mind works brilliantly, he relies on his neck muscles to operate a switch control.

‘Switch Control’ is one of the accessibility preferences on iPhone, iPod, iPod touch, Mac and Apple TV, that allows users with limited mobility to control different devices.

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For Christopher, this technology has been nothing short of life-changing, and has opened up his world to new and exciting possibilities.

“These tools have allowed me to come out of my shell and make my own way in the world,” he says.

“The thing that comes to mind is the day I made my first phone call. I was 15. It was on an iPhone and I was able to call mum at work. As you can imagine, this was a very big thing.

“Switch Control is now at the heart of everything I do. From communication and environmental control, to work and learning, and recreation and entertainment. Combined with the internet, it has allowed me to engage with the world more than ever before and to participate and contribute in ways that I never really thought would be possible.”

Christopher left a crowd speechless at the 7th International Carers conference last year when he edited a video live on stage…using his head.

At just 21 years of age, the tech-savvy computer guru has accomplished more than his able-bodied peers would dare to even dream, and probably most twice his age.

In addition to running his own professional video editing business, he is an Apple Certified Pro in Final Cut Pro X, an Accessibility Ambassador and a member of the Apple Consultants Network. His technical skills have also led to numerous work opportunities including a place on the FCPX editing team covering the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil.

Christopher became an internet sensation practically overnight after uploading his One Switch. One Head. The World. video online in 2012, which attracted more than 50,000 YouTube hits.

He has since produced a number of videos for his YouTube Channel on inclusion and how technology has an impact on his life, and has appeared and presented at various conferences.

Christopher says he’s now optimistic about the future.

“I love helping other people to understand and get the most out of assistive technology because I know what a difference it has made in my life.

“Lots of people around the world have already begun asking me for my advice and I love being able to help them. I think a lot of people don’t realise that so much great assistive technology is actually built into mainstream devices and appreciate any guidance they can get.”

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For the past 15 years, Garry Hills has been the primary carer for his son.

Garry says that with the aid of assistive technology and NDIS support, independent living for Christopher is now within reach.

“It’s absolutely changed his life. He now has friends and colleagues around the world. It’s a chance for Christopher to be creative and to make a contribution; it’s radically broadened his horizons,” Garry says.

While he’s always known Christopher to be clever, he’s continually in awe of his son’s capabilities, and how bright the future now looks.

Information session

Learn how technology can help people with disabilities live more independently

There will also be a 30-minute opportunity to meet with the speakers and sponsors.

When: Tuesday 17 April, 1pm-3pm & 7pm-9pm.
Where: Karralyka Centre, Mines Road, Ringwood East.

Book here 

Further information

For more information, or if assistance is required to enable you to attend a session, contact Fiona Burridge, Maroondah City Council’s MetroAccess Officer on 9294 5750 or email fiona.burridge@maroondah.vic.gov.au

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