Skeuomorphism (pronounced skew-a-morf-ism) is a design concept of making things look like their real-world counterparts. The most iconic example for most people of
On September 18, 2013, iPhone users received a notification to update to Apple’s iOS 7 operating system. When your iPhone restarted, it looked very different: the iBooks app no longer simulated
Get ready for something big! We are in the
New forms of interaction offer new ways for people to access technology. While these are exciting times in the field of personal technology, it can be easy to feel lost or insecure about your knowledge or ability to explore accommodation options. When people start feeling overwhelmed with technology, they sometimes choose to cut it out of their lives as much as possible. If you dislike modern technology and can manage without it, great! That is your right and you may very well experience some benefits from it. Balance is key in determining the role of technology in our daily lives, and a healthy dose of skepticism towards technology companies is necessary considering their power and past behavior.
Just like any skill in the real world, being tech-flexible is a practice that you can always pick up and work on. Here are a few recommendations that I have for you to remain tech-flexible in the next decade of innovation:
- Expect change: The pace of change in how you interact with computers will pick up over the next decade. There are no experts anymore; creativity and the expectation that a new solution will always be around the corner will drive inclusivity.
- Be curious: Instead of feeling like you must be an expert in all that exists in the personal technology field, try to think of yourself as an explorer. If you like to read, check out online technology blogs such as engadget.com, theverge.com, or gizmodo.com. If you like to network, attend technology gatherings and conferences like seattleinteractive.com. If you are a person who wants to use technology to live a fuller life, try to use these resources to keep up-to-date on other options that could work for you. You never know if a new release on Google’s Android operating system might fit your situation better than the Apple iOS app that you have been using, or vice versa. If it’s your job to teach people how to do new things using technology, make sure that you know how to use all the major platforms from Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Amazon. Teaching someone how to use Google Assistant when their home uses Amazon Alexa is not helpful for that person, and it’s up to you to remain flexible in how you teach technology so that you can match it to the individual you serve and their environment.
- Practice saying “I don’t know”: You don’t need to know everything! (Or even most things.) Remember this: most people learn by doing, so instead of approaching your technological dilemma by feeling bad that you don’t automatically know the solution, practice a functional approach. Explore the problem through asking questions of others who have had similar experiences, building your toolbox, and trying new things that you learn about. Failure is OK.
- Build adaptive systems: If you are working in personal technology and building the systems I’ve shared here, do us all a favor and reach out to us! Get to know people with disabilities who use your products or could be using your products. What we’ve learned is that when you design for people with barriers to access, you end up making your products easier and more intuitive for everyone: this philosophy is known as “universal design.” If you work as a programmatic or funding entity, build your programs so that they change with the times. This means avoiding bulk purchases of products, as that practice doesn’t allow for individual approaches. Avoid lifetime caps on technology purchases and instead think of implementing semi-decade cycles to more closely match the cycle of innovation we expect in the next decades. If you are in a position to make hiring decisions, you can focus on hiring a more inclusive workforce so that the spaces, products, and programs that your teams produce are created from a diversity of lived experiences. Focus on access to technology, because it is limited and has been distributed in unequal ways. This may be apparent in school districts not having technology that mimics work sites, or individuals having access to a resource only when their family can afford to purchase it.
- Finally, have fun. While the challenges and uncertainty will persist, in the coming years we will all experience some bit of magic in being empowered to do things that we didn’t think possible. Then what becomes possible starts to seem normal, and we start looking for more.
Shaun Wood, M.Ed., BCBA
Senior Project Manager, Wise
Shaun is all about jobs! He’s a community developer and has worked to support people with disabilities since 2002. He continues to work in schools, people’s homes, and job sites, helping to build inclusive communities. Shaun is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and a certified Employment Specialist. He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Eastern Europe, and obtained both his M.Ed. (Applied Behavior Analysis) and B.A. (Political Science/Human Rights) from the University of Washington.
Shaun uses applied behavior analysis, emerging technology, reflective processes, and mentorship to drive employment outcomes. In his current role, he’s available to work in local communities across Washington State and beyond! He has active projects from Alaska to the southwestern U.S. and eastern Canada. Shaun loves languages, and is fluent in Bulgarian with experience in French, Macedonian, Turkish, and Romani (he’s currently studying Spanish). When he isn’t working, he likes to garden, brew espresso, stare into his aquariums, and jog circles around his adopted hometown of Burien, Washington.