Newsline Volume 31, Number 2

Assistive Technology Corner...

Seeing Is Believing - Using YouTube for Assistive Technology Information and Inspiration

By Randi Sargent

Chances are your family has already discovered the entertainment factor of YouTube ( www.YouTube.com). Children and adults alike can browse amateur and professional short videos at no cost.

While you can search and watch YouTube videos without registering on the site, if you create your own account, which is easy to do and free, you can bookmark and organize videos of interest. You can also subscribe to channels to receive updates about new videos. YouTube will also recommend related videos based on your viewing history. So, what does this have to do with assistive technology (AT)?

Researching AT Products
YouTube is a way you can share AT products or ideas with your child's IEP team, family members or others. Enter "assistive technology" into the YouTube Search box to find videos about AT in the special education classroom, for daily living, or disability-specific AT such as visual impairment, cerebral palsy, or autism. Sort the results by "view count" to find the most popular videos. This is a great way to learn about products that can benefit your child both at school and at home. Here are some suggestions to find AT products:

  • Search by product name or manufacturer. For example, Dynavox Technologies and Don Johnson Inc. have dozens of professional videos you can watch on YouTube. You'll also find tutorials and demonstrations of popular products like Dragon Naturally Speaking that can help you decide if this technology is appropriate for your child.

  • Search by product type or category, such as electric wheelchairs, adapted vans, or smartpens.

  • Browse Channels. Cambium Learning Technologies has its own channel where you can find tutorials on their Classroom Suite and Kurzweil products. Other channels that highlight AT products include MassMATCH AT Video Channel, YourSpecialChild, LivingWellwithAutism, AbleNet, and Enabling Devices.

Viewing AT in Action
Video is a great way to watch children using AT in school and home settings. There are informational videos about changing g-tubes. You can see children using standers, gait trainers, or talking with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices by eye-gaze. Teacher and parent-made videos about using visual schedules and picture exchange communication systems (PECs) showcase ideas you may want to try with your children.

Be Inspired to Advocate
Seeing is believing. YouTube has dozens of video clips of children and adults using AT to achieve their personal, academic and self-determination goals. Search for "Taking Charge 3" or the "AssistiveWare Channel" to see the examples of how AT helps children make the most of their abilities. These will inspire you and help you advocate for your child's needs.

Watch the video "The Case Against Assistive Technology," and you'll be motivated to continue advocating for the use of new technologies to help all our children who learn differently.

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Randi is the parent of a child with cerebral palsy who relies on assistive technology for mobility, communication, and daily living. Randi is also a member of the Federation's Board of Directors, and the MassMATCH Assistive Technology Advisory Committee. Learn more about MassMATCH at www.massmatch.org. And, if you haven't visited the Federationís YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/fcsnvideos, please do. You can watch conference video, Gala presentations, and more.
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