I attended an extra educational session (called Assistive Technology Boot Camp) at ATIA 2015. This will surprise no one who knows me. I hate the phrase "less is more". No, it isn't. More is more (for example, the Oxford comma). But I don't need to get upset right now, so let's talk about what I learned at ATIA 2015.
Let me explain my thought process behind attending this extra session (other than the above personality quirks). It has been almost ten years since Tyler died. It's really hard to believe. Ten years is a really long time, but in terms of technology, it's an eternity. Especially the last ten years! I knew I was practically a dinosaur in terms of my knowledge of assistive technology. So I wanted to take the extra sessions in order to get up to speed, and then maximize my use of the time and resources available at the conference.
I was more than happy with the Boot Camp session. The two facilitators, Kirk D. Behnke, and Mike Marotta, were experienced in the field of assistive technology. They were well organized, kept the schedule running smoothly, and were very interesting. They shared information about the process of choosing assistive technology devices, what options were available (and here the difference in the last ten years is astounding!), and universal design (a concept I really loved and will probably write more about).
I learned a lot more about assistive technology than I can put in one blog post, but I will share a few points here.
None of these things are different than they were when Tyler was alive. I remember the super-expensive equipment I bought myself for helping him learn to speak. Unfortunately, it was just before the situation spiraled down, and I was never able to use it for him. I gave it to another child with special needs (along with his wheelchair) after he passed away.
In conclusion, the devices have changed substantially, but the care and "people skills" required to use them haven't changed.
I'm the owner of Family First Braille, the author of this blog, and the editor of Family First Braille Magazine.