Why did the assistive technology go to therapy? It felt it wasn’t getting enough support… thanks chatgpt

My first experience with assistive technology would be one I never really considered until now. Glasses. They assist someone so that they can see the same (or most definitely better) than myself and I don’t question anyone for wearing them. It brings someone up to the same standard as everyone else. How come most people are okay with this and not other versions of assistive technology. How come people are okay with hearing aids for those who need them to hear, and not say a student needing a laptop or recorder to succeed in school? I think this probably goes back to the stigma surrounding people living with disabilities that are not visible. Unfortunately, I feel a lot of assistive tech could be viewed this way.

To begin, like the above mentioned assistive technology, most of what I have had experience with is for someone that people can visibly see need help. Besides my callback to glasses and hearing aids, one of my classmates in elementary student moved from South Korea to Regina in the 8th grade. Up until this point, we had some students move from other countries and join our class, but their English proficiency was pretty good. Min-Seok was the first student/peer that I ever had that didn’t know very much English at the time and was having difficulty learning. This was right before the SMART Phone boom where everyone had a translator in their pocket. Min-Seok had his own little translator that resembled a Nintendo DS.

I’m not sure if it was this exact one, but it kind of looked like the one above. At first we thought it was unfair that he had such a device that could help him out, but then we realized that he really needed it just to get by. 13-year old Greg and his peers were originally less compassionate than we are probably now. We were just dumb kids and made judgements based on it. I know if I got dropped into a Korean classroom I’d be lost.  Again, it didn’t take long for us to realize he really needed.

Side note: One of my fondest memories of this was when, in the middle of math class, he had ear buds connected and was watching Family Guy, dubbed in Korean, in class. Our teacher had no idea. I sat behind him and he caught me watching. He gave me a thumbs up and then turned on English subtitles so I could read them while he was watching in Korean. We both laughed at something at the same time and our teacher glared at us. It definitely brought us closer together.

Like I mentioned earlier, I think one of the current drawbacks surrounding assistive technology is the perception that the general public has on those who utilize it. A common misconception is that if you need it, you are stupid, or that there is something wrong with you. Changing that mindset is something the is going to take a lot of time. One of the ways that my group discussed this was by making assistive tech more common practice in the classroom and accessible to everyone. If everyone is using it then it becomes normalized and one person isn’t singled out. Of course, this can also have drawbacks because not every school/school division has the means and resources to provide everyone something like a laptop or device. In some cases, only a few can be bought and distributed. Funding itself is a whole drawback that is difficult to navigate.

Another way to maybe combat these stereotypes by providing education to students on what learning disabilities are and how they affect students. Maybe students will become more compassionate once they have an actual understanding of what someone might be dealing with. Assistive tech isn’t just necessarily for someone with a learning disability either though. There are a variety of reasons why someone might need them. Heck showcasing how assistive tech can help everyone, like something like google read and write, could showcases it can help everyone and create less stigma if someone uses it, again leaning on the idea of normalizing it for everyone.

As we have advanced technologically over the years and things seem to be getting more and more complex, technology is going to have dramatic impacts on education as we continue to move forward. While I do think we lean on technology a lot at times, I cannot argue with how technology has helped provide equity and accessibility to education that would have struggled before without it. Having access to the tech is not as widespread yet but this is also shifting and changing.

One last drawback that I just thought of, that I don’t think was discussed (if it was I apologize) but what happens when a student doesn’t have their assistive tech to support them? Are efforts being put into place to help students learn how to adapt/cope if they don’t have access to assistive tech that is really vital for them? Not in the sense of the age old, “you won’t have a calculator at all times” (which we do now anyways) but in the more dramatic sense that a student can’t properly learn without it? What happens, and this is an example from the school I work in, where a student has someone that scribes for them for certain tasks and not others. The student is now starting to refuse to write anything down at all and will try to get the scribe to write everything down (because they just don’t want to write and not because they aren’t capable for that specific assignment). I feel that of course assistive tech does more than good but like everything people will take it and abuse it. That doesn’t mean we scrap it for all, I’m just genuinely curious as to what people think.


2 thoughts on “Why did the assistive technology go to therapy? It felt it wasn’t getting enough support… thanks chatgpt

  1. Hi Greg,
    I love the story of the student watching Family Guy in class, and then adding English subtitles for you. Too funny!
    And I hear you, it does feel that there is a serious stigma around assistive technology in the classroom, and even though maybe students are less abrasive than I was too back in the day as referencing 13-year-old Greg, although it does seem there is still the implicit theme of shame and discrimination. I wonder if that will slowly change with more time added to the mix, and the role of the teacher as the referee in this process to aid as students all navigate that journey.

    And I see how certain assistance technologies can be quite expensive and if forgotten at home become completely useless in the class. This is tricky! It does seem a smart phone offers most of these cool and unique programs to make this easier for students, but something like a Cpen seems so great until it is forgotten at home and renders its immense powers useless.
    Anywho, great thoughts here, Greg! Thanks for sharing!

  2. You’re thinking deeply about how people see assistive technology, like glasses, as normal. But other tools might not be seen the same way. Making these tools usual in classrooms could change how people see them. But getting enough money and ways to get them is hard. Teaching students about disabilities and showing how helpful assistive tech can be for everyone might help. As tech gets better, it’s important to make sure students who need these tools get the help they need to learn.

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