Society, Technology and Self

Samin Sankar


Assistive Technology

The technology that I found to be beneficial to people with disabilities is Assistive Technology.   Assistive technology is used to improve the life and independence of a person with disabilities and includes: wheelchairs, computers, IPADs, IPhone, computer software, Apps, and communication devices.  This paper will focus on communication devices for people with disabilities who face many challenges in their lives especially if they are unable to communicate effectively. These devices may be dedicated, such as the Dynovox, or an ipad with apps; all use symbol-based communication software. But with the rapid increase of new communication technologies many of these barriers have evaporated (Burgstahler).  Young children to adults with disabilities can now communicate more easily using computer software, IPads, IPhones, and Apps.  Communication devices are beginning to be introduced to very young children with disabilities, including children with autism spectrum disorders, Developmental Delays, Down syndrome, and other learning issues, in order for them to get a head start.  It can start as early as two years of age.

Today, assistive technology is more portable and can be customized for the communication level of each individual.   Technology in the beginning was as simple as a picture board or notebook of pictures where the child could communicate to the parents, caregivers and professionals. The communication programs can be picture based for earlier learners and then become word based for the advanced talkers.   In the past the assistive technology was much bigger and heavier.  Today, the devices are lighter and more portable.  Individuals are able navigate more quickly.  The communication devices, though similar to the old ones, are smaller, lightweight, and durable with many different types of cases to protect the devices from breakages ( ).   Also, the price for certain devices are affordable for individuals who need them.  In which parents, caregivers can purchased these devices for their children.

If the student has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) a parent or school can apply to the Department of Education for a communication evaluation, and if approved, will receive a communication device that can be used in school and at home.   According to the law, the federal government is required to provide students with the assistive technology needed for them to be successful in school; the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), was revised in 1997 and again 2004 (  Therefore, all children regardless of their socioeconomic status, gender, or race will be able to get a communication device if needed.

It is essential for people with disabilities regardless if their disabilities are from birth or acquired the disability during the course of their life. The children that are struggling from the time they are born, they need the devices to express what they want and need.  It is vital to teach the children and give them the opportunity to learn a different way to communicate with the people in their lives, because if they don’t have ways to communicate they will have meltdowns and difficult behavior.  The individuals need the devices in order to progress in their education and their work place.  It will teach them reading and writing documents, researching for information on the computer, communicating effectively with other.  It is giving the individuals all the tools they need to live and meet their full potential.  They already have so many barriers to face with their disabilities; the technologies will help them along the journey.

In the process of my research I came across some testimony about how assistive technology has changed the lives of individual with disabilities. The first video I looked at was a young man named John, that is non-verbal and who has no way of letting someone know about the abusive situation he experienced until he was given a communication device.  The way he told his story is by using Core Vocabulary, it is a group of simple words that are used regular and across the context, such as verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns, and conjunctions. These words are use by toddlers through senior citizens.  These words are put together to tell a story.  In the video the young man was able to about the abused by a worker “It was time eat. I wait and wait. No one there.  No one can. I was afraid no one here to help me eat. I wait more.  He came and say to me you don’t tell. He bad and mean. He ho away, I wait more”.  At the end of the video, “A report of the abuse was filed immediately a transcript and video of John’s testimony was included.  The caregiver received disciplinary action” (Tatenhove, 2012). In the article “technology giving every child a voice” by Susan Parrish, the text discussed Dylan Smith, who is ten years of age; he is a non-verbal child who is on the autism spectrum disorder.  Dylan uses an I Pad to communicate with his family members and in his school.  The device is allowing students who don’t have a voice to have one.  They are able to take the devices where ever they go and are able to communicate with teachers, friends and family in a structured and unstructured setting.  The school (Marshall Elementary that Dylan and his friend Austin attend, there are about 50 students who are severely communication delayed and they are in the autism spectrum (Parrish 2015).  It is important for these students to have some sort of way to help them get through their challenging day.

The shift in the communication field for people with significant communication needs happen in the year 1991 at the Dynovox Company.  They introduced for the first time communication assistive technology with touch screens. (  The range of communication options for people with complex communication needs has increased dramatically since 1991.  Today, young children are receiving ipad communication devices because the ipad is much lighter and compact.  The most common communication softwares on ipads include,  Proloquo2go, TouchChat, and GoTalk.  Proloquo2go was developed in 1996 when a friend of the CEO of AssistiveWare, David Neimeijer, needed an on-screen keyboard for direct access.  Mr. Neimeijer was the first person to integrate the use of a virtual on-screen keyboard with the Apple IOS. (   TouchChat was developed by Dave Hershberger who created the Satillo Company that would focus on Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

In the process of researching and writing this paper on Assistive Technology and I learned how important it is for people with disabilities to communicate their wants and needs.  Young children and adults with disabilities can now communicate more easily using computer software, IPads, IPhones, and Apps. Assistive Technology is available for all young children and adults that are in needs of communication devices, no matter what your race/ethnicity, age, gender, education, or socio-economic class.  The increase in the number of individuals who require assistance technology to communicate is unfortunate, to say the least. However, it is comforting to know that there are technological advances geared toward helping those people to have a voice.





Reference Page


The technology I will be focusing on is Assistive Technology to help young children, teenagers, young adults and adults with learning disabilities.  It will improve their social aspect of taking turn and sharing.  Promote independence and self confidence in their daily living tasks.  Assistive technologies is geared to the individual with learning disabilities to communicate their wants and needs to caregivers as well as the professional workers in their life.  Assistive technology can improve communication in order to decrease negative behaviors.  Some of the assistive technology that is available is as follows: wheel chairs, computer, IPAD, I Phone, computer software, Apps.


Assistive Technology. (n.d.).

Assistive technology is different types of technical devices that help an individual with disability to accomplish their daily tasks. There are some assistive technology that are in expensive (such as a picture board that don’t require a lot of money), but there some devices that are expensive (such as IPhone, computer, IPAD).  According to the text, the federal government understand the importance  of providing the students who need to have an assistive technology, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), was revised in 1997 and once again 2004.  The educational team in the school will have to request the device for the students who need the assistive technology.


Burgstahler, S., (1992). Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology.

People with disabilities are faced with many different types of challenges during the course of their life. The updated technology has help to decrease some of these barriers such as writing documents, communications with other people, performing task at school, home and work.  This is especially good for non-verbal children, who are not able to express their wants and needs. There is hardware and software design to be installed in their computers, known as adaptive or assistive technologies.  These new technology devices help the children and the worker have more efficient communications.’s Guide to Assistive and Accessible Technologies – (n.d.).

There are many different types of assistive technologies for infants, toddlers and young children with disabilities.   Assistive technology has increase the way changed the way professional and families interact with children with disabilities.   It will help the child in their communication skills, their social skills.  As the children grow and move throughout the school system, it helps them be more self-confident and independent.  Assistive technology gives children with disabilities the ability to meet their full potential.


Goode, S. (2006). Funding of Assistive Technology for Infants, Toddlers and Young Children

With Disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 26(1), 55-58.

Assistive technology is all different type of technology that can be used to improve the life of a person with disability. It can make their daily living skills much easier at home, school and in the community they live within.  There are that are simple and there are the ones that be high tech.  It all depends on the needs of the individual, since everyone learns at a different level. In order to have the right assistive technology for the child he/she will need to be evaluated to see where the child is cognitively.


I Can Soar: Angie. (2014). Retrieved March 08, 2016, from


This is video is about a student name Angie, she is 5 years of age, she is in preschool classroom. Her diagnose is cerebral palsy and she is nonverbal.  With the Voice-output assistive technology, Angie is able to communication with her family, peer and professional.  The adult on her environment can program the device, with the proper training. Angie is preparing to enter into kindergartner and she is able to learning in school.  It is just another way for Angie to get through life and accomplish any she set out to do.


Mcnaughton, D., & Light, J. (2013). The iPad and Mobile Technology Revolution: Benefits and

Challenges for Individuals who require Augmentative and Alternative Communication Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 29(2), 107-116.

Recently there have been more advances in technologies such as, IPADs, Mobile Devices to empower individual’s degenerative neurological conditions, developmental disabilities, and acquired neurogenic disorders. The mobile technology has impacted individuals without disabilities, but is has changed the lives of individuals with different types of disabilities and their families.  Some of the individuals that suffers with autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, and traumatic brain injury, these individuals can benefit from “Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices.  The New technologies come with the good and bad side of using the devices.  The positive part of the technologies is the individuals who needs Augmentative and Alternative Communication so they can be social acceptable.  Oh the other hand, if the tech goes down it will frustrate the user and hinder communications.


No Author, (2015, April 26). ATFAQ004 – Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

with special guests Craig Burns and John Effinger, Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads.

Dedicated Devices are bulkier, thus heavier, whereas IPads are lightweight and smaller to fit in book bags, and purses. IPADs are more durable, with covers that help breakage. Dedicated devices are more expensive, but IPads are more reasonably priced and families can afford them.  Usually locked – can only use for communications.  Medicaid/Medicare and private insurances may not pay for IPADS since they are not consider since they are not consider devoted to assistive technologies but it may be covered in a different state.


Parrish, S. (2015, March 22). Technology giving every child a voice.


In the article it talks about how teacher and parents are communications with their children who are non-verbal.   It talks about how the children use to use cards and become frustrated, (meltdown) when trying to communicate with their teacher or parents, now with Ipas’s they can type or Swype what they are trying to say.  It makes it a lot easier for the children, parents, and teachers to communicate.  The children are becoming more outgoing and socialized with less meltdown because no one understands what they wanted.

One of the children runs track and he uses his iPad around his neck so he can communicate. The other child is using his iPad and learning his words, and is so happy he dances around.  This technology has helped children become better socially and academically.


Prospero, M. A. (2014, April 4). 13 Best Autism Apps for the iPad.


There are countless apps available install on IPads, Tablets, IPhone and computers for individuals on the autism spectrum.  The apps varies depending on the needs of the individuals. One of the most popular app is the Proloqoyuo2Go and it offers 14,000 word of vocabulary and at any time new words can be added.   The individuals can have a great conversation with teachers, friends and family.  There is TouchChat HD which is another Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), in addition to see the word, there is pictures to help with making a full sentences.  Touchchat offers seven English speaking voices, as well as sentences that can be shared with social media.



Tatenhove, Gail, V. 2012. The Power of Core Vocabulary: Life Saving! Youtube.


This video is about a young man who is a non-oral and who had no way of telling the world about an abusive situation until he was given a communication device. The device the young man used, he was able to punch in one word by one word to tell his story about what the caregiver did and said to him. It is important to use Core Vocabulary with children with disabilities; although they are non-verbal they are still able to express their want and needs. It is skills they will need to get them through life.















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