20% project – entry 1

Question: What are some ways that technology can be made accessible for geriatric patients in speech-therapy?

I chose this question because I hope to have a career in speech pathology some day. I hope to work with older adults who have encountered communication difficulties due to age, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, and other speech-impairing conditions which an older adult may encounter. The question I chose to research ties in two main components:

  1. The uses of technology in rehabilitative speech therapy
  2. Making technology accessible for a generation that has not been exposed to some of the personal uses of technology from an early age

After conducting a thorough search on the internet, I discovered a variety of sources that apply to my topic by addressing one of the two components I mentioned above. For this entry I chose to focus on the second component. I have included a summary of my preliminary research here.

  •  To begin my research, I started looking up the obstacles preventing much of the elderly population from comfortably using personal technology on a day to day basis. I found this blog which seems to have a very comprehensive array of articles analyzing the elderly perspective on technology. Based off this blog, one of the main obstacles separating the elderly from technological advances is a desire for independence. Many older adults consider technology to be a crutch rather than an advancement. An article in this blog summarizes it quite simply: “elderly most often like to retain some measure of independence. By using a walking cane, they appear old and crippled while a mobile phone makes it easy to check up on them, making some feel restricted.”
  • OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) is a nonprofit organization that teaches older adults computer skills as well as provides programs to bridge the technology gap between generations. “At OATS, we see our mission as much more than simply teaching seniors how to use computers. The technology gap is a symptom of a much wider problem of isolation and marginalization of older adults in America, and this is the real issue that animates our work. We use technology to empower and support older adults in living successful, independent lives. We use technology to connect seniors to services, to communities, and to one another. We establish lasting connections to other nonprofit partners and programs to help build more sustainable systems of support for older adults.”
  • Oasis Connections is another older adult support network that offers programs in technology. “OASIS Connections has enrolled over 80,000 adults in classes to build skills and confidence using computers, the Internet and mobile technology.  We partner with public libraries, senior centers, faith-based organizations and job help centers to help them teach their participants.”
  • This article shows some of the reasons why older adults may be reluctant to use technology as well as provides suggestions on how to help older adults who fall into one of the categories they describe.
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