The Internet for Teens With Physical Disabilities

November 21, 2001

In 1990, while pursuing a Masters degree in counseling, I designed a support group for nonspeaking, physically disabled adolescents. The target audience was to be students mainstreamed into regular education programs working at grade-level, using a type of assistive technology called augmentative (or alternative) aids. These devices have a synthesized or digitized voice and are used by people who are unable to speak and articulate language verbally. Combined with computer technology, the device becomes a keyboard emulator for computer and Internet access. The parameters for this group were intentionally narrow, because I intended to create a support group for my daughter, Vanessa, who is disabled. I conceptualized a network of her peers; my specific goals for Vanessa were autonomy and solidarity.