I registered for Discovering Assistive Technology 2.0. I went to explore TransAccess which is a great site. I found myself thinking, "I’d love to do this!" Making people’s lives better is a great goal. To quote their purpose, "TransAccess provides persons with disabilities access to adaptive technology and career transition services so that they can achieve their desired education and employment, and improve their quality of life." (TransAccess) I looked up disabilities on Wikipedia and was amazed at the definition. The definition is not just physical disabilities; it includes, mental, social, and economic disabilities and other, too. Wikipedia estimates 53% of the United States population have disabilities under this type of definition. That’s a percentage to wrap your head around!
Then I explored the sites listed on Discovering Assistive Technology 2.0 and discovered a lot of famous people with different types of disabilities. What was interesting to me was to see how many people live with disabilities and still have wonderful lives and achieve great things.
I learned what JAN is, Job Accommodation Network. JAN provides person-to-person worksite accommondation technical assistance services, electronic technical assistance services, a quarterly electronic newsletter, and an electronic topical newsflash called Consultants' Corner. (from JAN official websiste.)
I know that I’m going to learn a lot of new terms. When I went to one of the linked sites I ran across blogs with JAWS being discussed. Well? What is that? So, I looked it up. JAWS is a screen reading software. How cool! I have lots to learn. I'm especially interested in technology that might help students who have learning disabilities. Since I'm currently teaching readers who need help with strategies and/or have learning disabilities, I'm interested in finding out what technologies might be able to help, how available it is, and the costs. We are given the site for National Center for Learning Disabilities which may help in this pursuit.
I also "toured" The site for National Federation of the Blind. How cool to have a Newspaper available to listen to! The menu allows the user to choose what they'd like read, the voice, the speed, and if they need words spelled out. There are lots of options. This site gave all sorts of leads to assistive technology for the blind. It was interesting to read about the National Center for Blind Youth in Science Web Portal. The goal of some of the programs, such as the NCBYS Science Academy, is to encourage youth who are blind to pursue science related activities and careers. Teams are successfully launching rockets and successful parachute deployments, and even dissecting sharks. There are many scholarships available to assist with the cost of these pursuits.
I know that when I substituted I was frequently in a 2nd grade classroom that was taught by a teacher permanently in a wheelchair. Her room was set up to accommodate the chair and allow easy access to all of the children and materials she needed to teach. I'll admit that when I came in I had to look for a place to sit...she had her own chair, I was the one looking for an accommodation. She had everything low, and the only thing up high was stored by a friend that she had come in once a week to help her set up. Her students saw her as their instructor and had no difficulties looking past her disabilities. We have come so far and I look forward to working on learning more about Assistive Technology!