by Ivanova Smith
I hear all the time about the woes of technology.
Smartphones are making us less social, or computers are going to rot our brain. We need go back to good ol’ days where we had to write a letter by hand to communicate with people long distance.
All that bashing of tech really gets to me because people with disabilities rely on tech to communicate, write, and live independently. I would not be able to write this article without it. And I would not have been able to get through school without my good reliable friends, grammar and spell check. When I hand wrote, it was hard to read, and my spelling was awful, but the computer helped make it readable.
I wonder what my academic access would be like if I had not had access to tech? I probably would never have made it to college. For people with writing impairments, tech can be our valuable accommodation. For the autistic person that can’t speak, but can communicate using tech like AAC devices, tech is a lifeline!
Before we had all this technology to help us, we were isolated from the world.
I see people asking, Where did all these autistics come from? We did not have this in my generation. The reason I think some feel that way is because tech has made autism more visible. Before we had all this technology to help us, we were isolated from the world. Kids like me were sent to institutional school because we were not seen to be able to learn. We were not given accommodations to help us learn. It makes me happy that I was born in the late 80s.
My smartphone became a great tool for my freedom and independence. I can check bus routes and manage my schedule all on my phone. I was never good about using a paper planner for these things because I would either lose it or forget to add things too it. But with my phone, it’s easy to add stuff to my calendar. It also helps me keep up to date on what my friends are doing. Even if I have not spoken to or seen the person for long time, I can still stay connected to them. There are apps to help people remember to say thanks and make to do lists.
Playing video games can be great for developing social skills, too. My sister helped me to learn how to take turns with Mario Party, and I did not start interacting with people till I was introduced to Pokémon games. While I may love talking and being verbal, many autistics find social media as place to build friends.
Things like eye contact and body language is pretty much a non-issue on social media. It’s why I want all people to understand the importance of tech is in the lives of people with Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities. It gives us independence and freedom we did not have before.
Things like eye contact and body language is pretty much a non-issue on social media.
New technologies are helping autistic people gain new social skills. There is this new app out called Pokémon GO, which encourages people to explore their communities to get magical creatures called Pokémon. Already, some parents are seeing how it’s benefiting their autistic children.
A mother saw her son make new friendships he never had before because of this new way to explore the outdoors. He used to live in a rigid routine and never go out, but the app as helped him gain friends and learn flexibility. This is what tech is bringing to our community.
The biggest barrier to tech for people with I/DD is affordability. Some many people can’t access it because it’s too expensive. That is a huge problem that needs to be looked at. Nobody should be denied tools to independence. Technologies should be encouraged, not discouraged. We need to advocate for these epic tools to be accessible for all people with I/DD.
People say all these woes of tech, but I see the benefits it brings for people with disabilities. Before tech, we could not connect with others. Now we can. Before, we were isolated. Now we are included. Offline, our disabilities are seen. Online, our abilities shine!
Before, we were isolated. Now we are included. Offline, our disabilities are seen. Online, our abilities shine!
Some say tech disconnects us, but really it brings us together. Think of this next time you hear someone focus on the negatives. Help them see the amount of access technology as given people with I/DD. Having more access to the world is a huge positive that outweighs any negatives!
Tech allows people with I/DD to have more independence. It’s an accommodation, the same as a ramp or an accessible parking place. It keeps us from being isolated and opens doors to education and all sorts of opportunities people without disabilities already have. So I say, what woes? When everyone gets a chance to connect and communicate, that’s a win!
Assistive technology resources and tips.