After listening to Gary Bishop's speech this past Monday, there was one thing that I was left concerned about - funding for enabling technologies.
I feel that all of these technologies that he showed us have the possibility and capability to help many people with disabilities and learning disorders. Even the most basic technological piece of equipment can change the life of someone who needs it to complete and/or understand everyday tasks. These technologies have been found to be extremely helpful in the classroom and the workplace. They are engaging, educational and can help with body and mind stimulation that can be invaluable for future success.
Gary Bishop made the point that in the classroom, students with learning disabilities need one on one attention. The problem is that there is usually only one or two teachers in the classroom at a time. Students suffer from lack of involvement while the teacher is helping another student. If we were able to receive more funding, not only for special education teachers, but for technologies in the classroom, the students would not have to sit there doing practically nothing while they wait to be helped/taught/clarified on a particular topic.
Gary said that these classrooms were like being trapped in a prison because there is nothing to do for the students, but I would go as far as to say that its more like a metaphor for being trapped in their own body. There are so many things that we can do to help people that need it. These technologies can help them come out of their shell and get rid of the restraints that they had in the past - whether physical or mental.
With the low/lowering cost of technology now, I am surprised to find that there is such a lack of funding for enabling technologies. Around 80 percent of organizations that need the support of enabling technologies cannot obtain funding to get it. This funding not only helps in the development and research of enabling technologies, but prevents people that need just a little help and support to learn and develop basic skills from doing so.
What are the solutions to this problem? Should the government get directly involved in the funding issue, or should we rely on Universities and non-profits to help and develop? What other benefits do you see from the help of enabling technologies?