Learning Disabilities and Assistive Technologies Guide: Chapter 2.2 - Myths, Realities & Action Steps

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Myths, Realities, and Action Steps

A growing number of technology-related options are now available. Unfortunately, ongoing myths about AT services and devices cause technology solutions to be overlooked or avoided in meeting the needs of people with disabilities.

Some, but not all, common misunderstandings are discussed here.

Myths:

  1. Assistive technology is a magic cure-all for people with disabilities.
  2. All technology is “high tech” and expensive.
  3. People want the latest and most expensive devices.
  4. One source has all the answers.
  5. You should not get assistive technology until you are ready.
  6. Only people with certain types of disabilities find assistive technology useful.
  7. If a technology solution is available, it will be used.
  8. Determining your assistive technology needs is done only once.
  9. Assistive technology is a lifelong process.
  10. Product descriptions are always accurate.
  11. Assistive technology is a luxury



MYTH: Assistive technology is a magic cure-all for people with disabilities.

REALITY: Assistive technology is a powerful tool to assist people with disabilities in meeting everyday challenges. By itself, assistive technology will never completely remove the difficulties which come with having a disability. Assistive technology is only one of many choices to be considered. Assistive technology is often used to improve, complement, or expand other services or solutions.


ACTION STEPS:

View assistive technology as part of a life-long process.

Define your goals and then decide where assistive technology can be used. All people can benefit.

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MYTH: All technology is “high tech” and expensive.

REALITY: Some of the most useful and effective devices are inexpensive and simple. These are known as “low-tech” devices.

ACTION STEPS:

Look for and find something that works - whether it is low- or high-tech.

Make sure that the solution relates to the goal(s) you have identified.

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MYTH: People want the latest and most expensive devices.

REALITY: People want tools that are easy, reliable, and affordable. They also want tools that will get the job done as quickly and conveniently as possible.

ACTION STEPS:

Find out about equipment loan programs so you can “try before you buy.”

Talk with other technology users.

Think about what you need to change in your job, everyday life, and in the community to help identify things you need.

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MYTH: One source has all the answers.

REALITY: Solutions and options may change, making it impossible for any one person to know everything about assistive technology devices and services. It is important for people with disabilities, family members, and all involved professionals, to learn all they can about technology. Sharing this knowledge and experience helps decide which device will work best.

ACTION STEPS:

Use a team approach to finding solutions.

Talk with other assistive technology users who may know of unique, personal, or practical assistive technology solutions.

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MYTH: You should not get assistive technology until you are ready.

REALITY: Using assistive technology is a personal decision. Many people prefer the familiar to something new. However, assistive technology lets people do things more easily, more independently, or sometimes even for the first time.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Try different options. Many tools may be available to meet your specific needs.
  2. Provide experiences that encourage success with the tools in different places. Don’t assume that a person can or cannot benefit from technology.
  3. Don’t assume that a person should go through certain “stages” of technology use.
  4. People with disabilities may need encouragement from friends, family, peers, and professionals to try different tools.

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MYTH: Only people with certain types of disabilities find assistive technology useful.

REALITY: People of all ages, abilities, and needs may be able to benefit from assistive technology. Everyone’s needs are different. Understanding and meeting the needs of the individual are critical. There are many technology solutions available.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Try different assistive technology options.
  2. Talk with other assistive technology users.
  3. Be sure you understand what you need and want.
  4. Recognize that your needs may change over time. Ask yourself again, “ What would I like to do better?”

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MYTH: If a technology solution is available, it will be used.

REALITY: Using tools successfully depends on several things. Involvement of people with disabilities and their family is necessary in evaluation, selection, and training for any device. Services and devices are often limited or useless if they are pushed on people with disabilities without involving them in the process.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. People with disabilities are the final decision-makers.
  2. People with disabilities have a right to assistive technology.
  3. Assistive technology is a process in which people with disabilities must be involved every step of the way.

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MYTH: Determining your assistive technology needs is done only once.

REALITY: Deciding what you need is a process that is nonstop and requires that many questions be asked.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Continually review your progress and desired goals.
  2. Change your plan and technology options as needed.
  3. Your needs can change over time. If this happens, you may need to start at the beginning and ask yourself again, “What would I like to do that I can’t do now?”

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MYTH: Assistive technology is a lifelong process.

REALITY: Many people with disabilities need assistive technology to give them more independence. In this case, assistive technology is a necessity.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Assistive technology may serve a necessary role throughout your life.
  2. Decide what you need to do to succeed. Then decide if assistive technology can enable you do it.

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MYTH: Product descriptions are always accurate.

REALITY: Product descriptions are designed to sell products. As a result, these descriptions don’t always point out limitations for some technology users.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Try before you buy! Trial periods may be available for a small fee or for free, if you ask.
  2. Call your local Tech Act Project office to see what devices they might have available for you to try (See State-by-State Resources).
  3. Gather product information from many sources before making a final decision.
  4. Other people with disabilities can provide practical

information about advantages and limitations of your tool of choice.

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MYTH: Assistive technology is a luxury

REALITY: Many people with disabilities use assistive technology to give them more independence. In this case, assistive technology is a necessity. If a tool makes a task easier or more convenient to do, it is not a luxury, no matter what the cost.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Assistive technology is a lifelong process.
  2. Decide what you want to do better. Then decide if assistive technology can help you do it.

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