Len Klie

The Case Against Assistive Technology

In an effort to increase schools’ use of assistive technologies (AT) for students with disabilities, AT software developer Don Johnston yesterday released a video titled “The Case Against AT.”

The video, which is just over three minutes long, maintains that many children with learning and physical disabilities are being overlooked in schools because, among other reasons, many feel that technology gives these students an unfair advantage. It puts a face—or in this case several faces—to the crisis, and highlights several students who struggle with pages of written text every day.

“It’s disheartening when non-verbal students struggle to communicate despite the advances in augmentative devices,” said Ben Johnston, the company founder’s son. “For students with dysgraphia, a writing disorder, a simple word prediction writing tool can make all the difference to demonstrate what they know. I hope my video plays at least a minor role to help people think differently about the uses and benefits of these tools.”

The Case Against AT” challenges educators to think differently about reading and writing accommodations in the classroom every day and  addresses the history of resistance to assistive technology in schools. It likens the technology to seatbelts, which have taken more than 50 years to catch on. I doubt—and can certainly only hope—that assistive technologies will not take that long to reach more widespread adoption. They’ve already found a home in many schools and school districts around the country, and hopefully this video will get the ball rolling further.

For a full update on the status of speech technologies in the assistive technology market, I’ll be writing a piece in the November/December 2010 issue of Speech Technology magazine. It will appear in the FYI section as a Vertical Market feature.

View The Case Against AT on the Don Johnston Web site.

One Response

  1. Maria Aretoulaki (PhD)
    Maria Aretoulaki (PhD) September 27, 2010 at 7:01 am |

    Many thanks for this pointer! I have been following with great interest the various assistive augmentative technologies for more than a decade now and I am eager to see them more widely adopted, especially in schools.

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