W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 1999

Re: QED & Marshall McLuhan

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 13:05:39 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "Bruce Bailey" <bbailey@clark.net>
Cc: "Ann Navarro" <ann@webgeek.com>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
At 12:10 PM 6/10/1999 -0400, Bruce Bailey wrote:
>The fact remains that literacy remains a prerequisite for ALL current
>computer operating systems.  There are many good (educational) software
>applications that do not require literacy.  Setting these programs up for
>use by their target audience, however, requires a literate person (probably
>a teacher or parent).  Setting up a computer so that it can be operated
>independently on a day-to-day basis by an illiterate person requires
>sophistication well beyond the average teacher or parent.


	I'm not sure how you determine "average" teacher or parent, but I've got
lots and lots of stories of children with cognitive differences learning to
use computers. At the time that I began putting special ed kids on the
Internet, I was not the only special ed teacher in VA doing so, and we used
to swap success stories when we got together at conferences. The child I
had with the lowest IQ (about 50 - due to fetal alcohol syndrome), was able
to learn to use a TRS-80, an Apple IIe, and a DOS system(386). He was able
to learn to do class assignments on the computer without assistance to get
the machine going and into the correct program, enter his  lesson, save and
print. This young man also participated online in a brief e-mail
correspondence with an autistic man in Texas. He needed assistance reading
and writing the correspondence, which stayed on a very simple level, but he
was able to get online, send, and get offline without assistance. No, it
didn't happen overnight, or even all in a single school year. I had this
student for four years.

	A more recent case came to my attention when I asked a student if she
thought a blind person or a retarded person could more easily learn to use
a computer and she said she thought it would be about equal. She knows of a
boy retarded due to an "abusive" injury as an infant, who uses a computer
for a variety of learning tasks. He was taught to use it by parents and an
older brother, and has now a computer of his own. 

	In another recent case, there is a Learning Disabled girl who uses a
computer and the internet regularly. She learned to use it partly at school
(where she uses a MAC) and partly at home with her parents with an
up-to-date machine. I will be using her and my computers this summer to
help the girl bring her reading and writing skills up, and hope to use the
Internet as I did with my students in the past when I was a full-time teacher.

	The mother of one of my current students was in special ed back when she
was in school. From what I've learned from her daughter, there is some
degree of retardation involved, yet her mother learned, on her own, to use
WebTV and uses the chat rooms several hours per day. Her chat partners
share similar literacy levels so they don't overwhelm one another. 

	The idea that cognitively disabled/limited/different folks cannot learn to
use computer and the Internet is as bogus as the idea that the blind cannot
do so. 
It does not require "literacy" to learn to use computers and the Internet
for many everyday tasks people want to use them for ... but it does require
good software and good web sites so that people can find what they are
looking for. 




Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Thursday, 10 June 1999 12:58:46 UTC

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