Brook McCall

Autonomous vehicles are coming. Virtual reality is here. These and other cutting-edge technologies have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, and United Spinal Association is committed to ensuring that the voices and experiences of its members are heard and heeded to maximize that benefit.

To facilitate those conversations and the inclusion of individuals with mobility disabilities in technology innovations, United Spinal has launched the Technology Access Initiative. The initiative is a far-ranging effort to connect the organization and its 50,000 members to the technology industry through the formation of direct partnerships with leading companies, the creation of resources and much more.

At the heart of the initiative is the Tech Access Group. This cohort of tech-savvy members from across the nation will work with leading tech companies and designers to help guide the direction of new technologies and the policy surrounding them.

“We want the unique user experiences and feedback of our community to carry weight and inform tech product service and design from the get-go, and not be an afterthought,” says Brook McCall, the woman charged with leading the TAG. “We are challenging tech thought leaders to solve the problems we face daily.”

A high-level quadriplegic herself, McCall is intimately familiar with technology’s vital role in increasing independence. “With limited mobility, access is everything,” she says. “Tech offers unparalleled potential for independence, autonomy and opportunities for participation
and success in areas where our members have faced logistical barriers in the past.”

The TAG team will meet regularly for subject-specific tech accessibility discussions. It will also engage with stakeholders to develop use cases and opportunities for technology engagement and access for United Spinal members.

“We’ve already had some great collaborative discussions about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to the state of tech in our lives,” says McCall. “We are passionate about generating real change that equates to improved ease-of-use, simplicity of design and processes, affordability, product access and awareness, and education and training, both for users and tech employees on all levels, about the solutions that we need.”

TAG is positioned to elevate the tech industry’s awareness and commitment to individuals with mobility disabilities as valued customers. The team will serve as consumer advocates, speaking out for our community’s needs in tech places and spaces where our voices have been previously lacking. Some of the technologies and fields TAG plans to focus on include connected health, smart homes/offices, smart cities, mobile offices, machine learning and AI, rehabilitation and mobility tech, robotics, prosthetics and transportation/autonomous vehicles.

If you are interested in getting involved with TAG, either as a member or tech partner, contact McCall at bmccall@unitedspinal.org.