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Learning adaptive technology

By Hilton Schwartz

May I start with a question? How did you learn your adaptive technology, and do you feel that a better process should be available?

My answer is, yes, there should be a better process available. The style in which each person prefers to learn, and their capacity to absorb new information is different from person to person, so the story that follows, is my personal one, and will probably be different from every other person.

When I lost my vision several years ago, I was connected with a local rehab agency that set me up with a person who would guide me through using adaptive technology, meeting by zoom two or three times every month.

We started with an iPad, and I slowly learned the voice over taps, gestures and swipes, and how to use the various applications. When I wanted to have a more effective style of creating documents, email, and searching the web, I was advised to get a MacBook laptop, and went through the same process of learning the keyboard shortcuts and other techniques to use it.

To supplement my regular instruction, I also attended sessions such as seminars, webinars, small person groups. I often had to call Apple disability support.

At this point, I have reached a certain level of proficiency on these two devices and have spent a considerable amount of time learning, practicing, troubleshooting, and figuring out various workarounds. About two years ago, out of curiosity, I started asking my colleagues how they had learned their devices and heard a variety of answers.

Often, they received some basic instruction and then had to figure things out for themselves. Many had also done the same as myself, with supplementary webinars, seminars, self-help groups, and wherever they could get a helping hand.

There are many ways to make this learning process more effective. As an example, having a single organized place to find documentation, information or self-study material, specifically for people with low or no vision, on how to use a device or application, would be logical. It puzzles me how manufacturers such as Apple can get away with selling you a device and not being mandated to provide this kind of support.

Now I would like to open this topic to everyone reading this article.

What is your story about learning adaptive technology?

How much time did you receive with an instructor, and was it enough?

What different learning methods worked for you?

If you were given only basic instruction, how did you figure everything else out by yourself?

Any other comments?

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