It was way back in 1996 that my family had finally saved up enough money to buy our very first personal computer!

We were so excited and amazed by what a computer could do! 

The use of floppy discs, diskettes, cd-roms, chat rooms, email, paint and drawing programs, educational games like the JumpStart series, and surfing the Internet all became a part of the regular, everyday routine around here!

Computers have evolved and upgraded so much now, that I am even more amazed at everything they can do and have come to mean to us.

In fact, computers are now so much a part of and important to our everyday lives that I wonder just how we ever survived without them.

The possibilities for computers to assist people with special needs, especially for those with communication issues seems almost endless. Just as everyone else uses computers to communicate, find information, earn educational degrees, and entertain themselves, so do the disabled, though they may need a few special tweaks made to their computers or special equipment to do so.

Please permit me to be so bold as to suggest that it is quite likely many individuals with disabilities who are phyisically and cognitively able to do so could benefit from learning the following basic computer and Internet navigation skills.

Basic Computer and Internet Skills:

• Turning on the computer

• Using the keyboard

• Navigating the desktop

• Learning to spell favorite websites' names

• Learning to spell the names of the people they want to communicate with

• Using email, Facebook, Skype, and/or other favorite social media choices

• Using Google

• Using YouTube

If your special someone is not capable of learning these basic computer and Internet skills, do not despair because there are so many other communication options available for them. Advances in the assistive technology market have exploded in recent years making all kinds of technological devices, hardware, and software available to help the disabled! 

Special Needs Technology:

• Voice activated typing programs

• Speech recognition software

• Special computer access methods for people who cannot use a keyboard

• Dynavox

• Communication apps for iPad

For the sake of brevity, I will not go into specific details about such devices and equipment, but I will include the link to one of my favourite assistive technology websites below.

Resources for Special Needs Technology: http://www.mayer-johnson.com/

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