Getting It: Using Information Technology to Empower People with Communication Difficulties

Getting It: Using Information Technology to Empower People with Communication Difficulties

Getting It: Using Information Technology to Empower People with Communication Difficulties

Getting It: Using Information Technology to Empower People with Communication Difficulties

Synopsis

"Dinah Murray and Ann Aspinall examine common problems faced by people with learning and communication difficulties - being judged on appearances, encountering impatience from communication partners, having problems identifying and understanding key information and difficulties communicating decisions. They demonstrate how IT can help solve these problems: by using, for example, internet search tools for accessing information at home, the socially neutral media of typed letters and emails, and anonymous, non-judgmental internet chatrooms and discussion forums. Three central case studies illustrate how IT improved the lives of Kumar who is on the autism spectrum, Marie who has dementia and Irene who has never been known to speak. Getting IT also provides practical guidance on how to use common IT software and gives an overview of the technology available for people with specific difficulties."

Excerpt

We know that people who do not speak can amaze people with their articulacy at the keyboard. We know people who find it hard to communicate or make friends in the real world but construct real friendships online. In the real world where you can see and hear each other, people are impatient for articulation and meaningful response and see unusual movements as a reason to dismiss and disregard you; you are constantly bombarded with information you can't switch off; everyone else is in an unintelligible and unpredictable rush. At the computer people are safe from the impact of society's rejection of the slow and odd. At the computer people who do not speak have a voice.

This book is meant to inspire people to use information technology (IT) with people in care and expand the skills and knowledge of those already doing so. In the next chapter we describe the impact IT has had on the lives of actual people the authors have known. Between us we have worked for about 30 years with people who have learning and/or communication disabilities of various kinds. We ourselves have been excited and inspired when we have seen how access to IT can transform people's lives. How to use information technology to make voices heard is the essential theme of this book.

With the help of that great bit of software, the businessman's friend, Microsoft PowerPoint (hereafter referred to as PowerPoint), anyone can make an impressive personal presentation. It is a very powerful tool that is very easy to use. This book has a whole lot of ideas about how to use it in a wide variety of ways to empower and enrich the lives of people with communication issues of various sorts. In the middle section, Chapters 2 to 8, we tell the story of three imaginary people in care who benefit from IT. Everything that happens in the lives our three heroes has in fact happened to real people. Much of it could happen with anyone, even people who do not read or write.

It is delightful to be able to expand PowerPoint's user base and turn it into a tool of empowerment and inclusion. Ann Aspinall of the Home Farm Trust has been using the programme or its predecessors in just this way for many years now among what is often the most excluded of populations, people with learning disabilities. Used correctly it can generate a liberating confidence in . . .

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