Wired To Work

On the air
Wired to Work

By harnessing the power of technology, Marty Tibor is making it possible for disabled workers to perform on a level playing field with their peers.

Adapting to Change
In 1990, just one year after meeting Cox and helping to create the TAP technology, Tibor made a choice. He decided to ditch developing computer systems for companies and to start creating solutions for disabled workers.

"We found it far more interesting to leave the world of bean counting and get involved with helping people," Tibor explains.

As the sole licensee of the TAP technology from Stanford University, Synapse is in a unique position to help a broad range of companies get their injured workers back on the job and up to speed with their able-bodied peers. The process begins by first deploying a team of observers to scout out the location and the needs of the employee.

"We look at the individual's physical profile, what their limitations might be, and the kind of work that they need to do," Tibor explains. "Then we'll come up with a solution that's going to work for them."

That solution can be a combination of assitive technologies that already exist, such as voice-recognition software, print magnification, speech synthesizers and head- and eye-tracking devices as well as custom-built solutions that Synapse will design and build.

"If you're solving a problem, you don't make what already exists," says Tibor. "We only make what we need to make; we'll design or build or invent whatever it is that we need to accommodate them."

When the system is completed, Synapse consultants return to the site to install and train the person on the new system.

"We show them what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong so that they can develop their skills," Tibor says. "It does take some effort to deploy. Everybody can pick up a pencil and they know how to use it. But things like speech recognition — I'm not going to say it’s daunting, but we’re not accustomed to hearing what we say."

Once up to speed, though, the results can be incredible. Tibor reports that people using Synapse technology can not only get their work done, but in many cases, they can out-perform their able-bodied peers. That's not just an empty boast, either. The U.S. Census Bureau was so impressed with the output from their disabled census workers using Synapse technology that they are now experimenting with extending the technology’s use to able-bodied workers.

How does the gear speed up a person's productivity? Think of an average typist. They're probably able to stroke out 40 words per minute. That's not bad, but individuals using speech recognition technology can "type" at 160 words a minute — that's four times faster.

"There’s never a good time to be disabled, really ... but there is great technology," says Tibor.

Next page: "To be honest, people don't do much preventative stuff."


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