Its name is the A-Tech Review. The aim of A-Tech Review is to become a virtual "trade paper" for what is variously called assistive technology, adaptive technology and accessibility technology. That means everything from the awkward-looking "mouse" some use when they have carpal-tunnel syndrome, to screens and interfaces that help the visually-impaired, to entire systems enabling quadriplegics to access a page like this. And everything in between. That's the beat.
The boss is Martin K. Bayne (above). He was known as "Mr. Long Term Care" back in the 1990s. He was a powerful advocate for the needs of people who require home nursing care, or any form of long term care, in order to live productive lives.
But his own disease process has moved on. Some time ago he was forced to move into a nursing home. Most of the 140 or so folks with him there are a generation older than he is. But they all share the pain, and indignity, associated with terminal illness.
Know this. Life is a terminal illness. No matter how well you may feel now, you are just a potential moment away -- a gun shot, a diagnosis, a traffic incident -- from being in Martin's position. And (God willing) we're all heading there, in our own time. Time wounds all heals. Aging is not for the faint-hearted.
I also have a personal dog in this hunt.
My mom has been blind since the late 1970s. I don't mourn much over that. In some ways it was one of the best things that ever happened to her, because it gave her friends, and a life outside her marriage. It also brought her a new attitude, a gratefulness. And she's not completely blind, just 99 44/100ths blind. She can still see a little TV, through a monocle, from very close-up. So she can get around. She's the "sighted one" in her bunch.
Mom came in to visit for Thanksgiving. She's now 83, but she flew across country by herself, to see her grandchildren. And on the way back home, she spent a few days with an old college friend. That is a great blessing, to have a friend you can go to see when you're 83, a friend whose face you may still see as young and vibrant, everything ahead of you, and who sees you in the same way.
But 83 is 83. Such blessings are increasingly rare. And when she arrived in Atlanta this time, she brought with her a walker, a four-wheeled contraption she pushes, with her bag on a shelf inside it. It's an example of the simple technology most of us will need in time, as I say, if we're lucky.
I don't know if I'll be lucky. I don't know if you'll be lucky. Maybe that gun shot, or car accident, or stroke, or heart attack, will be instantly fatal and we won't need help.
But some of our friends will. Some in our family do.
So don't look at any of this as an academic exercise. Send your friends over. Visit with them. Learn with me, about what we can do, as people and consumers, to overcome what time or mere bad fortune may do, and stay involved in the world.