I was reading a Firefox development person's blog and read about a new feature in development called "spatial navigation".
The conversation following the entry devolved into who developed what first and which alternative browser is better. I was sort of excited thinking about all the ways open source software would make it easier to develop adaptive software solutions to various problems people have in using computers and the internet -and here are all these folks in a "whose are bigger" contest instead of thinking about possible applications outside standard use.
One of the things I was thinking about was that it wouldn't require a complicated piece of hardware to connect to that particular solution and make arrow keys entirely functional for someone with limited use of hand movements or none at all.. and the thoughts came fast and furious about other things that might be easier to do if software (any/all) allowed minor tweaks- just like all the custom extensions folks build for Firefox right now. Add Thunderbird for mail to that mix and the two programs become a base for so many solutions to some of life's accessibility problems for folks with disabilities. It becomes a matter of customizing, not purchasing expensive software and hardware that has a steep learning curve. Best client fit and ease of use for individual clients is always the right solution.
And then it occurred to me, one of the areas that my interests and my degrees would converge would be to work in that field- adaptive hardware, software and computer training for people with disabilities. I can't create it (well, not professionally, though tinkering around with gadgetry, tearing things apart, repairing and creating new things, is something I have done all my life), but I know how to evaluate the various difficulties and client needs as well as how to explain adequately to an engineer (or I think I can explain, anyway). I would be a pretty good interface between clients and the folks who build things. I don't know why I didn't think about it before.
For a moment I was fairly excited about all the new possible ways to make computers and the internet useful for everyone regardless of physical and in some cases level of mental functioning. Now I need to start searching for places in LA that might be doing just that or could be with the right kind of enthusiastic person to stir some creative juices. I of course, would like to be able to find something to pay off my student loans and support a household, but that too could come in time.. I already see obstacles to the best beginning internship around for that- the price of gasoline is so high that I might not be able to afford to offer me for free if I had to drive any long distance. But it is something to think about and consider.