Michael Janger is a business consultant who advises companies in the technology and accessibility markets. Profoundly deaf since birth, Michael imparts his personal experiences and business training to product and service providers interested in filling market gaps for the special needs community. He has a passionate interest in technologies that enable people with disabilities to strive for equal access in their workspace and lifespace.
“There are many companies whose products provide a benefit to people with disabilities,” says Janger. “As a deaf person, I have benefited from these products, some of which have made a major difference in my life. I can relate to other people with disabilities when they describe some of the technologies that improve their quality of life and enable them to be functionally equivalent to their non-disabled peers. Like them, I am always seeking out new technologies that have the potential to further improve my quality of life and help me communicate better with hearing people. I derive much satisfaction out of working with companies that develop and market assistive technologies — knowing that I can help them improve their competitive position and ultimately, improve consumer choice for people with disabilities.”
We asked Michael about the Internet and social media and how these growing forms of interaction and network building have influenced his life. “The Internet made possible the existence of video relay services — which has made the most significant impact in my quality-of-life, by enabling me to carry on normal conversations with anyone around the world over the telephone. I have always liked to socialize and keep in touch with people, professionally and personally. Not being able to use the telephone independently has always been a source of frustration for me.”
“I don’t know if social media itself has made an impact on my life in the context of my deafness. However, that said, it has certainly reconnected me with childhood friends that I have not heard from in 30 years; it has also helped me stay in closer contact with my current friends and associates.”
“Since my disability tends to have its greatest impact on communication, my deaf friends and I have always been very industrious in utilizing technologies and devices that improve communication, not only with hearing people, but also between deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Before Facebook came along, we always kept in touch via pagers and text messaging. Facebook is just another layer of communication above all the other devices that we have been using to communicate. We already had a social network before Facebook.”
When we asked Michael about staying focused and motivated on professional goals, particularly when the economy is rough and opportunities are scarce, he advises others with disabilities not to lose sight of the goal that they have set for themselves. ”It may sound simple and cliched, but in my experience it always helps. When you feel discouraged or frustrated, it can be easy to forget about the goals you have worked hard for, and focus on what you cannot do. That can be debilitating. Only when you regain focus on the goals you work passionately for, then you can visualize solutions to help navigate the barriers that keep you from achieving those objectives. When you shift from thinking about what you cannot do, to thinking about what you CAN do to deal with an obstacle, that makes a real difference in how you can achieve success.”
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