Respect adaptive technology

Technology is amazing.

It means that we don’t all have to be subsistence farmers. And that we can live in places with deadly cold climates. And that we have safe water. And that we can go places quickly that used to take days of walking. And that we can communicate with people on the other side of the world.

These are all good things. And they’re all things that we can take for granted, because depending on technology makes it possible.

And yet – when a person with a disability uses technology which most people don’t use, people say many versions of this:

  • Well, I used to use PECS with him, but he can say a few words if he really tries, and I didn’t want him to become dependent
  • She can walk. I’ve seen her. Why is she using a wheelchair?

No matter what you use, as a disabled person, someone is likely to say that you shouldn’t be using it and should be trying harder not to depend on technology.

It isn’t reasonable. And bearing that in mind makes life easier.

Something simple that can make presentations more accessible

If you will be using a handout in your presentation

  • Make more copies than you think you need. (Accessibility is more important than conserving paper)
  • If it seems like you don’t have enough copies, ask if anyone needs their own in order to be able to follow
  • Wait 10 seconds to give people a chance to respond.
  • If anyone needs their own, give it to them before you pass the sheets around to everyone else
  • (Some people need their own because they have to hold it in a particular way to be able to see the print clearly. Or because they need to write on it in order to follow. Or because they have communication problems that make sharing a document difficult).
  • Before your presentation, upload your handout file to dropbox or another file sharing site
  • Before you begin, let people know that it is available and where to find it
  • Put the URL on the print copies and the board
  • This is helpful because some people need large print or other modifications, or can turn pages on a computer but not a printout, and making files available makes the content usable