Most of us use technology on a daily basis, personally I would not be able to make it to work on time in the morning without setting a wake-up alarm! Devices can be used to communicate with people, summon help in an emergency and support us in life areas such as cooking, shopping, time management and budgeting.
When it comes to supporting technology use within a young person with a disability’s life the telecommunication skills of those around them i.e. parents, teachers, and support staff is very important. What has been identified is that often those support people do not always have the device knowledge to facilitate successful telecommunication and device use.
Recently I have been working on a project which is aiming to address this gap in knowledge and support successful telecommunication in school aged children with a disability. The project is titled “Kids Tele-Talk Tools: Equipping school aged children with skills and equipment for successful telecommunication”. Through this project we have delivered training in schools throughout Perth and purchased telecommunication equipment which is now available from our Hire Department.
Topics such as understanding your device, responsible device use, promoting personal safety and using apps and in-built features to support life skills was included within the training. To help determine the most relevant content for the training my colleague and I were able to spend time in an education support classroom and deliver phone skills classes to their students. This was a great opportunity for me to learn about how the students were currently using their devices and what they thought was appropriate/in-appropriate behaviour when using them.
Promoting personal safety and the responsible use of technology were both popular topics in the training sessions which were delivered to parents, teachers and support staff. Safety was discussed from two perspectives, the first being how to use a device and applications to enhance safety. The second being internet safety and how to support the young person to use the device in a way which is socially appropriate. Those involved reported that the risks (real or perceived) associated with inappropriate device use and internet safety often limited how the young person was able to engage with the technology. My hope is that those involved have now gained the confidence to mitigate the potential risks and increase opportunities for the young people they support to engage with the technology they have.
Thus far the response to the training has been positive and those who have participated are looking for ways that apps and device features can be used to support the skills they are developing at home and in the classroom.
What I have learnt is that whilst a device can help to support a young person with a disability in life skills and safely accessing the community, time must also be spent in upskilling them and those around them in how to use the device safely and to its full potential. My take away message would be “technology is not so scary- in fact once you are confident in using it, it may prove very helpful!”
Emma Van Chastelet – ILC Occupational Therapist
The Independent Living Centre offers a range of Professional Training and Community Information Sessions based on the needs of the disability, aged care, health and special education sectors. Our health professionals are qualified to deliver training on a range of topics, with specialist knowledge in:
- Assistive equipment and technology
- Home modifications
- Inclusive technology in schools
ILC also offers customised training and professional development in an interactive and hands on approach.
View our upcoming training, information sessions and events on our ‘What’s On’ page or alternatively please contact our Training Coordinator today to discuss your training and information needs, firstname.lastname@example.org or (08) 9381 0600.