I have been asking myself this question each time I have read about cloud computing in the pages of the business section and having no idea what it meant. The need to learn more became acute when I was asked to participate in a conversation at the Coleman Institute at the University of Colorado, titled:”Implications of Cloud Computing for Residential Support and Service for People with Disabilities” in October. .This conversation is going to include service providers, consumers and advocates, technologists, law and policy specialists.
I have learned that the cloud is going to be a game changer for people with disabilities. If you thought the IPad was revolutionary, we have seen nothing (and I believe the IPad is a game changer for people with disabilities). The cloud is going to be universe changing.
There is already an international initiative, the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) initiative that is already thinking and planning and we need to be informed and get involved so we can shape the thinking and policy that will come out of this initiative. For example, they are already shaping how people with disabilities will access all forms of technology in a way that will make sense to each user. Imagine, each person with a disability (or me) will have a unique identifier (stored in the cloud). Every time the person accesses their mobile phone, PDA. notebook, laptop, net book, computer, or any devise with a screen (Metro card ticket machines, ATM machines, etc), the interface will look the same because the user will be identified and the font, font size, color, background color, layout, will look the way they want. A visually impaired person will see the size and color that best suits them, the voice commands will be at the right volume; a person with a cognitive disability will see the same screen layout each time they access technology.
All this is just the beginning and important because as budget pressures increase, we must find less labor intensive ways to provide services and as in-person supports become less common, people will need to become more independent in their use of the web because their service providers may be at a remote location, monitoring supports for lots of people..