Announcer: This is the intersection of assistive, educational, information and accessible technology. Welcome to the Inclusive Technology Solutions Podcast with your host Mike Marotta.
Welcome to episode 1 of the Inclusive Technology Solutions podcast. I am very excited to start this project. I have been talking about it for quite a while and just never seemed to find a way to get it off the ground. So this is the year: 2016. We will take the plunge and we will get started.
What I am hoping to share with you throughout this podcast, is the range of technology supports that are out there to support individuals with disabilities. Thinking about the blurring of technology. I chose the term Inclusive Technology because of that blurring in the field of technology we are seeing now with people with disabilities. It used to be that Assistive Technology was expensive, complicated, people didn’t want to use it. Fast forward to today and technology is everywhere. Many of the Assistive Technology tools we use are consumer electronics that have been used in a unique way to meet the needs of a person with a disability. So that’s what we will focus on as we go through this. Some of the topics, we will talk about mobile devices, we will talk about wearables. That’s a huge subject that I think will just explode in the next year or so. We will look at watches and any other types of wearables that might be out there. We will talk about Chrome. If you follow anything I do online – I talk alot about Chrome. I love Chrome! But we will talk about beyond Chrome even. Technology supports that are profile based where the supports live in the cloud and we can use any device to access them. I think that is what we will see in the future for technology. That’s what we are going to do in this podcast. We are going to do that and you will hear from me quite a bit, unfortunately, sorry that’s just the way it’s going to be!
But you will also hear from experts, people that I would call friends, in the field of assistive technology and they will talk to us. They will come from an array of backgrounds. They will come from K-12, post secondary education, employment, and community living. They will come from all those backgrounds.
Each episode will I have a feature interview. We will pull one of those people aside and we will talk with them about technology and where they see the field going. But not just the tools. We won’t spend our time focusing on just tools. We will spend our time looking at solutions, innovative solutions. Yes, that will include tools, but more importantly it is going to be strategies and ways to meet someone’s needs with technology. So I am glad you are here – let’s get started.
Announcer: And now, the Inclusive Technology Solutions Podcast Featured Interview.
Well, in future episodes this is where you would hear an interview between myself and a professional working in the field of Assistive Technology. But, since this is Episode 1 I don’t have any interviews yet. So you are stuck with me.
But what I did want to do, instead of an interview, I did want to highlight a program that I am working on that I am really excited about and want to share. It is called Technology Beyond the Classroom. It started last year as a grant I received through our Tech Act project in our state, Disability Rights New Jersey. I developed a 6 week training program about mobile technology and how they could use it to become more independent. So I partnered with a local Arc, The Arc of Monmouth, and delivered this training across the six week span last summer to approximately 25 individuals. What was interesting about this program is that I went into it expecting to show them all the features of different types of devices. Tablets, smartphones, iPads, Android – any of the things that came in. What I found was that all the participants, to a person, had either an iPhone or an iPad. So what we ended up doing over the six weeks was learning all the built in features of these devices. It was fun to talk with them about what do you do with your devices. Many of them had smartphones and when you asked what they do with them, they did nothing more than text, take pictures, go on Facebook. No one used the Calendar, no one used the Reminders app, the Maps. No one was using any of these pieces that are built into these devices – that we could use to make them more independent as they go out in the community. So that was the thrust of the six week program. What was interesting at the end was that we had individuals that became very good at using their devices – both with the built in apps and actually with some apps we purchased for them. We showed them how to use the built in accessibility features. Many of the individuals were not readers – so to get them to use the Speak Selection that was built into the iOS was huge. Now they could listen to texts from someone. They could go to a webpage and they could listen to it spoken out loud. So even just showing them that was a huge step forward in their independence.
But what’s really exciting and it’s why I wanted to share it. I am starting with the next group of individuals and I am starting a 10 week program and what we are doing in the 10 week program is similar to what we did in the summer. So we will do the basic: how does your device work, what’s built into it, how do you use it and all that fun stuff. But what we are going to do on top of that is we are actually going to introduce Genius Hour to the individuals. Now if you are not familiar with Genius Hour. In Genius Hour, the participant drives the learning and what we have is that individuals are able to come up with ideas of a project that they are interested in. So what we are going to do is we are going to have some discussion and we are going to generate some ideas and they are going to lead their own learning. What I am hoping is that they will use the skills we have developed over these past weeks to research topics, to connect with people on line, to develop a plan to finish their project and then demonstrate what they have learned through an electronic book that they will create on their mobile devices using the Book Creator app. So I am very excited about this and we are just starting it now so we are just in the brainstorming part. But I did want to share about that program that I am working in because it is very exciting and as we go through the podcast, in future episodes, I am hoping to have interviews with some of the participants and the staff and just kind of give you updates periodically about how we are doing with this process as we move through it.
Starting with the next episode, we will have feature interviews with individuals who deliver technology services to people with disabilities. So keep an eye out for that.
Announcer: Learning. Sharing. Connecting with other professionals. Twitter provides an amazing platform for professional growth. Every Wednesday night at 8 PM eastern, a dedicated group of people connect in real time to discuss the most important issues facing individuals with disabilities and the technology used to support them. This is the AT chat review.
#ATchat is a great resource and if you aren’t participating you are missing out on something big. and I am not just saying that because I am the co moderator. I am saying it because it is that good! Every Wednesday night, with Karen Janowski, we tackle the issues related to assistive technology and technology supports in general for people with disabilities.
I am going to use this time during each episode to highlight some of the discussion that came up and hopefully whet your appetite so you join us on a Wednesday night at 8PM eastern.
One recent topic was focused on our mentors in AT and how we got started. the question that I really enjoyed the conversation that followed was:
If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give yourself about delivering AT services?
Right away as this topic came up, and of course as the co-moderator I knew it was coming, my first thought was Talk less-listen more. Everyone has ideas to share. Give them a chance to help develop the solution. Jim jumped in and said: Consumer’s voice is most important, even if you think you have the best solution. Karen said: help teams build capacity, move away from the expert model and learn from students. They can teach us so much! Vikki said: don’t be afraid to take the time up front to build consensus around a solution. Leads to better outcomes & less time later. Darla’s comment was simple and straight to the point: presume competence! Maureen reminded us: Patience, patience and more patience. Build capacity, learn from others and finally, Mark gave our past selves some hopeful words. Hang in there. Twitter is coming and an amazing and supportive #PLN and so, you heard that. What would your advice be?
Like Mark said, Twitter can be a powerful component of your PLN. Share your expertise and learn with us. See you during a future ATchat
Announcer: Let’s wrap it up!
So we come to the end of Episode 1. I have had a good time I hope you have too. Just some things before we wrap up. Some show notes! Looking forward to some future episodes.
Coming up in just a couple weeks is the ATIA conference. Looking forward to that for sure. Always a great opportunity to connect with other professionals, talk about new ways to implement technology, see the new tools that are out there. Specifically, for this podcast, I will have an opportunity to connect face to face with many of the people I am hoping to bring to you on future episodes. If you are not able to go, I would say to you follow along on line! You know I am a big Twitter fan. Follow along with the Twitter Hashtag . It is #ATIA16 So keep following that. Participate in the conference even if you are not there. Ask questions, follow up with people, learn new information. You don’t need to be there in order to learn. So I hope you do that.
I want you to be a part of this experience. So I have a tool called Speak Pipe that’s loaded on my website and it gives you a chance to leave recorded messages that I can play on a future episode. So head over to my website at mmatp.com, and click the link for the Inclusive Tech Solutions podcast. Record your own message for an upcoming episode. Share a comment, a resource, a good idea – whatever you want! We all have something valuable to add to the conversation and I look forward to having you be part of the podcast.
Thank you for listening to Episode 1 of the Inclusive Technology Solutions podcast. This podcast was produced by me, Mike Marotta. The music in this podcast is by bensound.com and is used under the Creative Commons License.
Until next time – keep learning and keep sharing.