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I was lucky to be born during a time when, with education and the help of technology, I could get a job working at a keyboard and become part of the employable population. I left my family’s home farm 58 years ago to work for an organization where I eventually became vice president for corporate communication.

Today, with less physical labor required to hold a job and advances in technology, disability in the workforce is becoming both irrelevant and commonplace. It no longer matters that I can’t walk without crutches or a walker.

But, it’s also not uncommon nowadays for someone to be considered “disabled” for a time without a needed plug-in or an app for this and an app for that.

I lose touch with the world and my network of contacts (and, therefore, become “disabled,” since “keeping in touch” today is a life activity), if I simply lose my smartphone or if I can’t access the Internet with my iPad.

We’re also at the dawn of an age where people and machines are becoming one -- not just externally but internally (thanks to nanotechnology). With advances in medical technology, individuals previously thought to be “crippled,” “handicapped” or “disabled” are becoming “perfectly able” and part of the employable population.

We could be on the cutting edge of a new way of looking at aging and disability. Aging could be just another stage in life which requires more “plug-ins.”

And, we could be reaching a point in the near future where virtually everyone will need an accommodation beyond the basics described by AJ Withers (such as artificial intelligence) to effectively obtain a meaningful education, compete in the workplace, enjoy recreation to the fullest etc.

If that’s the case, disability is disappearing for those of us living in the 21st Century. Disability doesn’t matter anymore in terms of accessing the means to fully participate in society.

Death may also eventually take on a new meaning. Death could someday mean being “disabled,”the point at which combining a human being with machines or a virtual, personalized assistant to be “perfectly able” is no longer feasible or preferred.

As seniors, we need to become “armchair experts” of what is happening in neuroscience, genetics, nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s fun. It builds self-confidence. It helps us all stand a little taller.

* How has your view of physical dependency changed over the years?

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