When I was in high school, I made the decision that I wanted to go to college and study the fields of assistive technology and accessibility so that I could make technology better for people with disabilities. While a lot of people understood that I wanted to make a difference for people with disabilities, they didn’t quite understand why I wanted to study assistive technology and wondered if I would get a job after graduating college – this lead to a parent at an event telling me that my would-be degree was useless and that I should study something else, and my fellow students getting confused over the name of my field of study and writing messages in my yearbook wishing me good luck with studying a degree or topic that was nowhere close to what I was actually planning to do. Once I got to college though, I knew that I had made the right decision and instantly found myself immersed in a field of study that celebrates how technology makes things not only easier, but how it can make things possible. Today, I will be sharing answers to questions I have received from others about why I study assistive technology, and why I am deeply in love with this field.
A lot of people in the field of assistive technology have a person who inspired them to pursue this field and to become passionate about accessibility and inclusion. For many people, this person is a fellow teacher, a student, a family member, or maybe even a friend. In my case, there are a few people who inspired me:
Assistive technology is primarily a graduate degree, though my college gives students the unique opportunity to get a minor in assistive technology to complement their major. Since accessibility intersects with so many things, assistive technology can be a great pairing with a lot of different majors, including but not limited to:
For students who are unable to take classes on assistive technology, there are still opportunities to study assistive technology within other classes by doing a project or essay – I have an entire post on this linked below.
Something that I love about the field of assistive technology is how social it is – there are accessibility groups all over the physical and digital world, as well as opportunities for people to speak and write about accessibility and assistive technology. I started my website about a year after I started taking college-level coursework in assistive technology in November 2016 and started my freelance public speaking work shortly after. As part of my speaking and writing work, I have also engaged in advocacy work on local, state, national, and international levels where I have used my training as an assistive technology specialist to address issues such as inaccessible stairs on my college campus, educating others on how to use accessible voting machines, talking to members of Congress about how assistive technology benefits people with low vision, and even talking about content warnings for strobe lights in a popular children’s movie.
While requirements for assistive technology and accessibility jobs may vary depending on the position, there are several ways that people can learn more about assistive technology. Some of my favorite resources include:
There are also several online and physical conferences that take place yearly that talk about assistive technology. Some of these conferences include:
One of my ultimate goals is to work for a major technology company where I would be able to help students all around the world with achieving their goals and getting the skills they need for the future, and using assistive technology and inclusive design tools to make that possible. And I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.
By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com
Updated December 2023; original post published July 2017.
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