I can always seem to find something to feel anxious about where my daughter’s well-being is concerned, because I am a special needs father and a bit of a worrier, so it’s part of my dadly gig. But when I’m feeling especially “life handed us lemons so we’re going to make lemonade, not stick them in someone’s eye”, I think about how lucky Schuyler is to be making her way in an age of wonder when technology has given her so much help towards enjoying a richer and fuller life. She’s living in The Future.
Schuyler’s speech device hasn’t just given her a voice. It has modeled and mentored communication for her, teaching her through daily use the intricacies and structure of how language works. AAC tech has made a difference in her life, perhaps THE difference, and while not all or even most of the obstacles in her life at the moment can be solved through technology, the fact remains that the impact technology has had on her life is immeasurable.
So when I was approached by Support for Special Needs’s own Jen Lee Reeves over the summer and asked to join her and Kate Canterbury in a proposal to South by Southwest Interactive for a panel exploring the use of technology in the disability community, I was especially honored to be a part of the event. When SXSW accepted Jen’s proposal, I was thrilled.
Now, in preparation for the panel, Jen has put together a special video project to hear from other members of the disability community on how their own lives have been impacted by technology. Here’s her video explaining the project:
I hope that as many of you as possible can take a few moments to plop down in front of a camera and record a little somethin’ somethin’ to record your own special needs tech stories and share them on YouTube, in response to Jen’s video.
To help get you started, here’s what Schuyler and I put together. The video and sound isn’t awesome, but Schuyler is fun to watch. And if you’re a fan of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot program, you’ll enjoy pointing at my beard, which is now thankfully extinct, and saying “It’s a Squatch!”
Finally, if you’re in Austin during SXSW, please come by the panel on March 12th from 12:30-1:30 in the Lone Star room of Austin’s Omni Downtown hotel. I think the discussion is going to be extremely informative and fun, and we all might learn something in spite of ourselves. SXSW has also asked me to autograph copies of Schuyler’s Monster after the panel, so if you’ve been wanting to tell me what a swell guy OR what a jerk I am, that’ll present the perfect opportunity. I’ll sign your book either way.
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Julia Roberts is founder of Support for Special Needs and has been a regular contributor since its inception in May 2010. A mom to two kids with special needs, she didn't want other parents to feel what is the often isolating world of raising a child (or two!) with disabilities. Her kids had kidney transplants at the age of eight and will need liver transplants in the future as a result of ARPKD/CHF. They both have vision disorders and learning disabilities.