Technology on the Job
United States Court of Appeals Judge David Tatel credits advances in technology and Hadley's Assistive Technology Director, Douglas Walker, for helping him remain independent, despite his battle with retinitis pigmentosa, which has rendered him legally blind since the 1970s.
While Tatel struggled with vision problems most of his life, it wasn't until his early 30s when his vision truly began to decline. "When I began losing my eyesight I taught myself braille, learning how to use a braille typewriter and computer display. This was helpful, but it still left me looking for better solutions," he explains. When the iPhone came out, he was motivated to learn.
In December 2017, Judge Tatel discovered an article citing useful apps for the visually impaired, written by Douglas Walker. "I immediately emailed Douglas and received a prompt response; he was and has been enormously helpful. Whenever I have a question, he seems to have an answer," Judge Tatel explained. Douglas is legally blind himself and found a friend in Judge Tatel.
During their first interactions, Judge Tatel inquired about text-to-voice apps, hoping to find a tool that would allow him to listen to court documents without assistance. Douglas introduced him to Voice Dream Reader—a voice-based mobile app, making it possible for him to place court briefs into Dropbox and listen on his own schedule. He says Voice Dream Reader is now one of his favorite and most used apps, dramatically changing the way he functions at work. "Just the other day, as I was leaving the office, I received a three-page memo. Thanks to Voice Dream Reader, I was able to take the document with me on the go, load it into Dropbox and listen while on my way home."
Since then, Douglas has introduced Judge Tatel to other apps with his easy-to-follow videos found on the Hadley website. "People like Douglas and I are very dependent on technology, and grateful for the difference it has made in our lives," Judge Tatel said. "For me, technology has provided the opportunity to read all the documents I need to read each day, while maintaining my independence."