My Soap Box

I’m exasperated by the high price of specialized technology for people with disabilities, and frustrated because government agencies, at least the ones I know about, frequently recommend the most expensive of all the available options. The people making the recommendations seem to have a one track mind, or possibly an agenda, never looking for free or low cost alternatives, and they are rarely knowledgeable about more recent products and software. Watch a New York Times video to understand what I mean about lower cost options.

The current state of technology is demonstrated the video below. In less than nine months, over 7,000 people have watched this video and I’ve gotten some very nice comments and emails; thank you. Please sign the guest book to let me know what you think.

My newest rant

is with the public school systems in my area. The “technology specialists” seem to continue to suggest large, bulky devices of limited use, like the GoTalk9 and GoTalk20, when an ipad mini is close in price with so much more functionality, and the iPad has so many more uses than just to be an electronic replacement for picture exchange. Why use a device which can only have 20 phrases at a time, with 100 phrases in total when the iPad can have as many phrases and words as the user wants and is customizable for a new need, within seconds. Read about one family’s experiences helping their child “speak”.

My specialty is teaching adults, though sometimes children, with disabilities how to use computers and other technology devices to better their lives and give them a chance of getting a job or going to school. I’ve been in my present position, as Technology Manager at The Center for Independent Living of Middle Tennessee, for the past seven and a half years. During that time I’ve had plenty of opportunity to explore various specialized devices and software for people with disabilities. While much of this software and hardware is very good, the cost is so expensive as to put it out of reach for the people who really need it. Even if the insurance company will buy the device, the family is left with the $500-800 a year repair contract. This brings me to the point of my site; a place to explain how mainstream software and devices can be used for those with disabilities without paying the exorbitant prices for specialty products.

Most of my students are blind or have low vision. Some have no speech, some have little or no use of their hands, while others have intellectual challenges. The thing that all these people have in common is that using a computer can help them communicate and learn in a way that was only a dream 10 or 15 years ago.

I’m available for speaking engagements.

Please contact my manager, Aaron Armstrong,