In order to figure out which tech tools can be used to overcome obstacles and make life easier, most of us need help from someone who’s already been there … done that. However, finding that person has become even more difficult than it used to be. I hear from families all the time that it’s almost impossible to find specialists who are “in the know” and confident with helping adults and children overcome obstacles with the help of assistive technology.
Åssistive technology specialists now work collaboratively with the leadership in schools, rehabilitation centers and employers. In order to provide a more inclusive environment to support everyone, the current model of providing technology support is to “build capacity.” The goal of this approach is to empower all teachers, supervisors and administrators with skills so they are better equipped to provide multiple ways for everyone to access, interact with and demonstrate knowledge using technology.
With this “building capacity” model, schools and employers are better able to proactively design instruction and tasks as well as integrate mainstream technology tools to support everyone with different ways of communicating, learning, thinking and getting things done.
Many of the expensive assistive technology tools of the past have been replaced with features that are integrated in our current computers, browsers, phones and other mainstream devices.Touchscreens, dictation programs, reminder systems, screen readers, video creation tools, captioning and transcription features, and robust communication systems are now readily available and much more affordable for everyone who needs them.
That’s the good news.
Here is the problem.
It’s hard to find help when you need it. How can you find someone experienced with updated tech tools and the process of leveraging the benefits of the technology that best matches your needs? It’s overwhelming to figure it all out.
A parent, aging adult or self-advocate reaches out in a FB or email group asking others where they can get support to learn more about using technology to help someone who can’t read. Or can’t write. Or is totally disorganized. And they wait. And wait some more. Perhaps another parent responds who has tried one tool and suggests that they try it too. Need help taking notes online? Try one of those special pens that record what you say and sync it with what is written. Need help with writing? Try speech-to-text. Need help with reading? Try audio books.
But how? What are the options?
Is it even still available and will it work with your computer, tablet or phone? What if you aren’t comfortable in this rapidly changing world of tech?
The frustration and sense of overwhelm begins.
Why did I choose to become an Online Tech Coach?
Because the way parents, students, aging adults, stroke and head injury survivors, and advocates find and benefit from assistive technology support is in total chaos. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the constantly changing world of tech. It’s stressful for everyone.
A parent of a struggling student, an elderly adult or a someone who is recovering from a brain injury or who has had lifelong challenges realizes that they learn, think or organize themselves with more difficulty than others. They schedule an evaluation with a neuropsychologist or educational consultant and spend thousands of dollars and usually several days performing a wide range of tasks. Eventually, they learn about how their brain works and what their strengths and weaknesses are. It’s a critical step toward being able to get started receiving accommodations and using helpful strategies they may need to succeed. Many tech tools are suggested or the evaluators may suggest a follow up assistive technology consultation.
Who is in charge of figuring out which technologies will support this person? What if families believe that more needs to be done than the school or employer provides? Who will actually try using a few apps, accessibility features or strategies with this person to figure out what the steps are that they need to take for effective implementation? How can it be fine tuned for efficiency and success? Is there someone that will continue to be available to brainstorm potential solutions that may work as situations, tasks and expectations evolve?
We need to know what choices we have
If your school or employer is unable to deliver the support that is required to help you leverage the benefits of technology to overcome cognitive, learning and communication challenges, there are others that you can go to for help.
Start with your school, employer or another person in your world who provides support. Perhaps there is someone well versed with the technologies that you need to succeed and they can spend the time with you or your family member to get the technology set up and working strategically in a way that meets your needs. Many teachers, tutors, therapists, clinicians, accessibility specialists and advocates are computer savvy and willing to help explore available technologies. Reach out to them. They are rare gems to be valued and appreciated!
In the US, every state offers a technology assistance program. To locate programs in your state, go to the National Assistive Technology Act Technical Assistance and Training (AT#) Center (https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram) and search for location near you from their online directory. Another resource may be a local DETAC (Disability Employment Technical Assistance Center (https://aoddisabilityemploymenttacenter.com/).
Or you can turn to YouTube or perform a Google search to find some incredible video tutorials created by developers and assistive technology specialists. Type in a few key words describing your difficulty and perhaps you will find a great solution to try.
Or go to http://bit.ly/PickADayAndTime and I’ll give you a call at the time you select that is best for you. During the free 15 minute phone chat we can figure out your next steps together.
Learning opportunities with me (Joan Green) to leverage the benefits of technology
In addition to offering free 15 minute phone consultations, I also offer online self-paced courses, Spotlight Sessions, free webinars, books, a private FB group and 1:1 online coaching sessions. I’ve merged my interests and skills created over many years as a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist, mother of 4 young adults, elder care provider, assistive technology specialist and early adopter of all things tech- to help you as an online tech coach! Take some time to explore my website, www.innovativespeech.com . Check out the Online Learning tab for upcoming events.
Let’s Improve Communication, Cognition and Productivity with Tech-Savvy Strategies, Solutions and Support!