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“Written communication is the great social equalizer.” It allowed me to participate and be a part of things bigger than myself. As I reflect on my life and career in light of a mid-life Autistic ways of being are human neurological variants that can not be understood without the social model of disability.If you are wondering whether you are Autistic, spend time amongst Autistic people, online and offline. If... diagnosis, I realize how much I was driven by the desire and need for written communication. I became an engineer who helped build the infrastructure that would allow me to socialize with the written rather than the spoken word. Consciously and unconsciously, I helped create technologies and culture that suited my neurotype.
I’m in good company.
- Technology, Text, and Alternative Socialization
- Online Written Communication and Autistic Community
- Anything but the Phone!
- Writing is the path to power for those born without power.
- The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface
- Text Augments All Other Media
- A Workflow-Focused Approach to Writing Offers a Pathway to Agency, Creativity, and Confidence
- Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.
- Typed Words, Loud Voices
- Let’s Augment Everybody, Let’s Leave No Mind Behind
- Bring the Backchannel Forward
- The Accommodations for Natural Human Variation Should Be Mutual
Technology, Text, and Alternative Socialization
Asperger may have been the first clinician to notice that his patients’ imaginations occasionally anticipated developments in science by decades, forcing him to amend his statement that the interests of his little professors were “remote” from real-world concerns. But his joking suggestion that the designers of spaceships themselves must be autistic also turned out to be prescient.
Tommy the Space Child was not the only member of Asperger’s forgotten tribe to turn his youthful I don’t know who invented the phrase “special interest.” Probably some researcher. Autistic people don’t really love the term because the term “special” has become tied so closely with terms... with science fiction into a career in science. For many people on the spectrum in the years when they were still invisible to medicine, science fiction fandom provided a What I have always been hoping to accomplish is the creation of community.Community is magic. Community is power. Community is resistance.Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-First-Person-Stories-Twenty-First-ebook/dp/B082ZQBL98/ https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-Adapted-Young-Adults-ebook/dp/B08VFT4R9T/... where they finally felt like savvy natives after years of being bullied and abused by their peers for seeming naïve, awkward, and clueless. Another community that enabled autistic people to make the most of their natural strengths in the early and mid-twentieth century was amateur radio. By routing around the face-to-face interactions they found so daunting, even people who found it nearly impossible to communicate through speech were able to reach out to kindred spirits, find potential mentors, and gain the skills and confidence they needed to become productive members of society.
Amazingly, both of these What I have always been hoping to accomplish is the creation of community.Community is magic. Community is power. Community is resistance.Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-First-Person-Stories-Twenty-First-ebook/dp/B082ZQBL98/ https://www.amazon.com/Disability-Visibility-Adapted-Young-Adults-ebook/dp/B08VFT4R9T/... were launched by the same man who was likely on the autism spectrum himself: a visionary entrepreneur named Hugo Gernsback, who foresaw the decentralized, intimately interconnected nature of twenty-first-century society before nearly anyone else with the help of his equally eccentric friend, the prolific inventor Nikola Tesla. Along the way, Gernsback and Tesla anticipated the development of television, online news, computerized dating services, videophones, and many other conveniences that we take for granted a century later.
It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential. For success, the necessary ingredient may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, from the simply practical, an ability to re-think a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways.
The revenge of the nerds was taking shape as a society in which anyone who had access to a computer and a modem could feel less The label "disabled" means so much to me. It means I have community. It means I have rights. It means I can be proud. It means I can affirm myself... by the limitations of space and time.
The kids formerly ridiculed as nerds and brainiacs have grown up to become the architects of our future.
One day someone will write a history of the Internet, in which that great series of tubes will emerge as one long chain of inventions not just geared to helping people connect in more ways, but rather, to help more and more types of people communicate just as nimbly as anyone else. But for the story here, the most crucial piece in the puzzle is this: Disability is an engine of innovation simply because no matter what their limitations, humans have such a relentless drive to communicate that they’ll invent new ways to do so, in spite of everything.
You could describe this in that old cliche that necessity breeds invention. But a more accurate interpretation is that in empathizing with others, we create things that we might never have created ourselves. We see past the specifics of what we know, to experiences that might actually be universal.
A useful artifact of this fascination for technology, text, and alternative socialization is the rise of backchannels.
Backchannel is the practice of using networked computers to maintain a real-time online conversation alongside the primary group activity or live spoken remarks. The term was coined in the field of linguistics to describe listeners’ behaviours during verbal communication. (See Backchannel (linguistics).)
The term “backchannel” generally refers to online conversation about the conference topic or speaker. Occasionally backchannel provides audience members a chance to fact-check the presentation.
Source: Backchannel – Wikipedia
Both kids at school and adults at work, regardless of neurotype, benefit from backchannels. “This kind of technology supports the shy user, the user with speech issues, the user having trouble with the English Language, the user who’d rather be able to think through and even edit a statement or question before asking it.“
Online Written Communication and Autistic Community
Backchannels especially support autistic people. “Online communication for autistics has been compared to sign language for the deaf. Online, we are able to participate as equals. Our disability is often invisible and we are treated like humans. It provides much needed human contact otherwise denied us.” “Online communication is a valid accommodation for the social disability that comes with being Autistic. We need online interaction.” “Thin slice studies showed that people prejudge us harshly in just micro-seconds of seeing or hearing us (though we fare better than neurotypical subjects when people only see our written words).“
ANI launched its online list, ANI-L, in 1994. Like a specialized ecological niche, ANI-L had acted as an incubator for Autistic culture, accelerating its She tells of a radical fringe of scientists who are realizing that natural selection isn’t individual, but mutual—that species only survive if they learn to be in community.Emergent Strategy: Shaping.... In 1996, a computer programmer in the Netherlands named Martijn Dekker set up a list called Independent Living on the Autism Spectrum, or InLv. People with Dyslexia is a genetic, brain-based characteristic that results in difficulty connecting the sounds of spoken language to written words. It can result in errors in reading or spelling as well..., ADHD or what I prefer to call Kinetic Cognitive Style (KCS) is another good example. (Nick Walker coined this alternative term.) The name ADHD implies that Kinetics like me have..., dyscalculia, and a myriad of other conditions (christened “cousins” in the early days of ANI) were also welcome to join the list. InLv was another nutrient-rich tide pool that accelerated the evolution of autistic culture. The collective ethos of InLv, said writer and list member Harvey Blume in the New York Times in 1997, was “ANI launched its online list, ANI-L, in 1994. Like a specialized ecological niche, ANI-L had acted as an incubator for Autistic culture, accelerating its evolution. In 1996, a computer programmer....” He was the first mainstream journalist to pick up on the significance of online communities for people with neurological Our friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals.... “The impact of the Internet on autistics,” Blume predicted, “may one day be compared in magnitude to the spread of sign language among the deaf.”The neurodiversity movement: Autism is a minority group. NeuroTribes excerpt.
Until one day… you find a whole world of people who understand.
We were no longer Aloneness is a characteristic that many creatives embrace and yearn for. Being alone is anything but lonely. Reading, writing, and creating art all demand a personal space where one can....
One could make the argument that autistic people created the very computer environment autistic people are most comfortable in.
In fact, there is pretty good evidence that most of the science, technology, and arts you enjoy are the products of autistic minds.
Anything but the Phone!
Phones are very stressful. ‘Call if you have a problem’ is an inaccessible gauntlet for me and many others. If you work with Neurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a mind that functions in ways which diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodivergent is quite... kids, keep in mind that their parents are likely neurodivergent too. Most of the autistic parents “you encounter will not be diagnosed, and may indeed be oblivious to their own social and communication difficulties. By making your systems and processes more adapted to the needs of autistic mothers, you will be supporting not only undiagnosed mothers (and fathers) but other adults with additional needs.“
Considering that autism professionals must know how we autistics struggle with verbal communications, it is troubling how few willingly offer alternatives. My life, and my ability to advocate for my son, has been immeasurably improved through the use of email.
If you do one thing to improve your service, please provide your email address and show willing to communicate in this format. I can think of no reason to withhold email addresses, and am not sure what’s stopping you.
When AMASE conducted a survey about the mental health of autistic people around Scotland, we found that many had been excluded by such simple things as practices insisting on telephone contact
There’s a lot of misunderstanding about autistic people, and phone calls.
Many autistic people are not always able to speak, or may not be able to speak at all.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people know this. So there can be major difficulties with people misunderstanding what’s happening.
Lots of autistic people can only sometimes use phones. It’s a major barrier to healthcare, to job success, to getting basic services and basic human rights. It’s great when companies and organisations know the law, want to work with us, and create Our friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals... ways to interact. Text. Email. Webchat. Timed called with a known person. Anything that works for us as individuals.
Quantitative data indicated that email ranked highly when accessing services, seeking customer support and communicating about research. When communicating with family, friends, in employment and in education, both face-to-face and written modes (email or text message) were preferred. In the qualitative data, four main themes were identified: Not the Phone, Written Communication, Masking is exhausting. Utterly utterly draining. I’ve had people say to me many times over the years “But WHY are you so tired? What have you been doing?” and I’ve... versus Autistic Communication and Avoiding Communication. There is a clear message that mode of communication can be either enabling or disabling for autistic people. A reliance on phone calls can create barriers to access, yet the option to adopt written forms of communication can improve accessibility. For known connections, the preference for face-to-face communication is dependent upon how close and accepting the relationship is.
When contacting unknown people or organisations, we found that generally email was preferred, and phone calls were very unpopular. However, for friends, family and people they felt comfortable with, they preferred both face-to-face and written forms of communication (e.g. email and text message).
Implications for practice, research or policy
The findings suggest that services should move away from a reliance on phone calls for communication. They should make sure that access to support is not dependent on the phone, and instead offer written options such as email and live messaging which are more accessible. Future research should investigate the impact of COVID-19 on autistic people’s communication preferences, as video calling has become much more commonly used and potentially combines benefits and challenges of other modes discussed in this article.
The sound of the phone ringing can immediately evoke anxiety for some people, especially for autistic people and people with anxiety. If the call hasn’t been agreed in advance, many of us find ourselves simply unable to answer it and let it go to voicemail. Why is this?
The highest-rated barriers by autistic adults were deciding if symptoms warrant a GP visit (72%), difficulty making appointments by telephone (62%), not feeling understood (56%), difficulty communicating with their doctor (53%) and the waiting room environment (51%). Autistic adults reported a preference for online or text-based appointment booking, facility to email in advance the reason for consultation, the first or last clinic appointment and a quiet place to wait.
Autistic respondents reported avoiding the telephone (78%), voicemail (61%) and face-to-face verbal communication (30%). Forty one per cent reported that it is ‘easier for me to communicate in writing’ (table 2).
While most respondents (67% vs 65%) reported booking an appointment online would facilitate access, autistic patients selected a need to ‘email my doctor in advance with a description of the issue I need to discuss’ (62%), ‘wait in a quiet place or outside until my turn’ (56%) and ‘book an appointment by text’ (41%).
Difficulty using the telephone to book an appointment was significantly associated with all adverse outcomes apart from having to undergo more extensive treatment or surgery than if they had attended sooner.Barriers to healthcare and self-reported adverse outcomes for autistic adults: a cross-sectional study | BMJ Open
Writing is the path to power for those born without power.
Writing is too important because, though forms and structures will differ, writing is the path to The 20th Century political scientist Karl Deutsch said, “Power is the ability not to have to learn.”I quote this statement often, because I think it’s one of the most important... for those born without power. This importance lies not in how to write a “five‐paragraph essay” or a “compare and contrast” book review but in the capability to clearly communicate visions both personal and collaborative. Whether the work is a tweet that generates action when that is needed, or a text message to an employer, or the ability to convince others in the political realm, or the expression of one’s identity in a form that evokes The ‘double empathy problem’ refers to the mutual incomprehension that occurs between people of different dispositional outlooks and personal conceptual understandings when attempts are made to communicate meaning.From finding a... in those without similar experience, “communicating” “well” is a social leveler of supreme importance.Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools.
In both cases, methodology become less important than process. Our students read on paper, or through audio books, or through text‐to‐speech, or by watching video, or by seeing theater – or by observing their world. They write with pens, keyboards large and small, touchscreens, or by dictating to their phones or computers, or by recording audio, or by making videos, or by writing plays or creating art, or playing music. We do not limit the work by attacking those with disabilities or even inabilities – or even other preferences, because that robs children of both important influences and of their individual voices. Multiplicities are an intention: We build the best collaboration, the deepest learning, when we expand the opportunities for complex vision.Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools.
Thus we begin by moving the teaching of writing from the training of a specific skill set toward an interpersonal art form that flows from students and builds communities. Then, through the reimagining of teaching places into “learning spaces,” we craft “studios” where all the technologies of school – time, space, tools, pedagogies – liberate and inspire rather than deliver and test. Then, using those recrafted technologies, we allow communication learning to Monotropism is a theory of autism developed by autistic people, initially by Dinah Murray and Wenn Lawson.Monotropic minds tend to have their attention pulled more strongly towards a smaller number of interests at....Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools.
The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface
Text and There are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning Most schools and... have never been as pervasive and central as today. We live in a stream of digital revolutions pushing reading at the centre of our lives and activities. The result is the Emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds Emergent strategy is a way that all of... of a new role for text as the all-purpose interface. This trend leads to a future made of text, where everything is mediated by text and in which everybody is directly and indirectly involved in the production and consumption of more text. The production of text is already collectively amplified, for instance, considering as texts receipts, reports, manuals, frequently asked questions, to-do • Progress in human understanding has become increasingly complex and overwhelming.• Checklists help prevent serious but easily avoidable mistakes.• Checklists should be as short as possible, include all essential steps..., memos, contracts, chats, tags, notes, descriptions, emails, invitations, calendar appointments and so on. Therefore, the Future Of Text lies in the re-definition of text “craftsmanship”, focused on enabling and facilitating a text-mediated access and interaction with the relationships, functions and actors of the reality we live in.The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface, The Future of Text
Text Augments All Other Media
Unfortunately this is a familiar experience for me and many other blind and partially sighted people. When using my phone I often get stared at, tutted at, and have even experienced several abusive comments about faking my blindness.
What they don’t realise is that I’m using several of the built in accessibility features to enlarge the text, zoom apps, and even have my phone read out information to me.People think I’m faking my blindness because I use a phone – but it’s other people’s prejudice that’s the problem
A Workflow-Focused Approach to Writing Offers a Pathway to Agency, Creativity, and Confidence
Ultimately, we argue that a workflow-focused approach to writing offers a pathway to agency, creativity, and confidence with computing-a spirit that is very much in line with the lineage of digital and multimodal work in composition studies.Writing Workflows | Introduction
I’m learning a lot about myself since my ADHD and autism diagnoses. One of the things I’m learning is that a lot of my ways of working are actually disability hacks: as it turns out a LOT of my people are very visual and a LOT of my people have poor working memory. Instead of trying to change myself to fit the ways of working I think I should have, because other people, I should maybe instead celebrate that I have, by trial and error and very little help or encouragement from anyone, kluged my way into some best practices for my particular career and set of challenges. I should congratulate myself on the self-knowledge that got me to a place that I’ve devised a whole Workflow thinking is the act of reading knowledge work as modular and intertwined with technologies. Through workflow thinking, writers break any particular task into a series of smaller steps and... that minimizes the disabling effects of my particular forms of Neurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a mind that functions in ways which diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.”NEURODIVERSITY: SOME BASIC TERMS & DEFINITIONS Neurodivergent is quite... and allows me to shine. (para. 5)Writing Workflows | Introduction
Morrison’s post suggests that Workflow thinking is the act of reading knowledge work as modular and intertwined with technologies. Through workflow thinking, writers break any particular task into a series of smaller steps and... can be an inclusive and productive concept-that we have much to gain by considering how we work, what tools we work with, and how those preferences can help us think beyond a set of default, invisible, or unstated norms.Writing Workflows | Introduction
Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.
Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.Crip Linguistics Intro
I am introducing these terms to address an underlying bias in our schools: that There are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning Most schools and... is the only form of reading. You can help move the needle on this limited assumption by using the terms eye reading, There are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning Most schools and..., and There are three types of reading: eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning Most schools and... yourself and explaining them to your child.
…we must question what we are taught is the “Normal was created, not discovered, by flawed, eccentric, self-interested, racist, ableist, homophobic, sexist humans. Normal is a statistical fiction, nothing less. Knowing this is the first step toward reclaiming your...” way to do things, and instead integrate multiple ways for our children to access information.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning
People use languages in different ways. Some people use language to help find other people like them. Many people use language in specific ways because of how their body and mind work. Sometimes a person’s environment and material conditions forces them to use language in a certain way. However, when someone languages outside of what people think is normal, others can think that they are bad with language or are not as smart or are broken. We are trying to point out that no one is actually ‘bad with language.’ Our goal with this paper is to help people understand that no language is bad. It is okay to want to change your own language use if it will make you feel better. But no one should make you feel bad about your language. We need a bigger and more flexible understanding of what language is and what it communicates about a bodymind’s capacity.PsyArXiv Preprints | Unsettling Languages, Unruly Bodyminds: Imaging a Crip Linguistics
Typed Words, Loud Voices
Another way that typing has helped me is with my blog. I am able to say things, especially about my feelings that I cannot get out through my mouth. Sometimes, it can take weeks to get it out even by typing, but it does come. If I was trying to speak, it would never come out. I have noticed that when I am upset about something, if I blog about it as soon as possible, I am able to get my real feelings and frustrations out. This is a new and helpful thing. It is helping me to become a better advocate for others and myself. The words are starting to come out through the keyboard, but it has to be done as soon as possible, otherwise the words disappear. I also have to be careful because certain people may read what I write and get worried (this has happened even though there is no reason to be). I am tempted to start another blog but keep it anonymous so that I can say whatever I need to say. It would be interesting to see what would happen if I had that freedom. Something I have definitely never had with the spoken word.
I type to talk. Without typing I have no voice to tell you I am smart. I spell my thoughts because I cannot speak with my mouth. Thoughts remain imprisoned in my mind escaping only through my finger on a letterboard or keyboard. I tell of my experiences of being autistic in my writing and blog. Without typing I am misunderstood as retarded and unteachable. You cannot tell from my exterior that I am following everything you say. Understanding comes easy to me.
Fingers are better communicators. They’re just harder to be listened to if you’re in the same location. Sometimes this isn’t used because speech is so much faster, but the fingers give so much more detail, phrase in so much more depth, get tied up so much less. Fingers don’t get lost in their own sentences.
Even those who can always make words with their mouths often find typing a more eloquent and less stressful means of communicating than speech. No one should feel that they have to prove they are “disabled enough” to deserve the supports that will make their lives easier, happier, and more productive. Increasing my ability to communicate with others has filled me with so much hope and joy. I want everyone to feel that way. I want everyone to be heard. Typed voices are a celebration of communication and connection. Listen to them and rejoice. The clicking of the keyboard is the song of life unfolding.Typed Words, Loud Voices: A Collection – Autonomous Press
Let’s Augment Everybody, Let’s Leave No Mind Behind
Digital communication and collaboration technologies enable NeurodiVenture : an inclusive non-hierarchical organisation operated by neurodivergent people that provides a safe and nurturing environment for divergent thinking, creativity, exploration, and collaborative niche construction.NeurodiVentures | Autistic Collaboration NeurodiVentures create safe spaces for groups... to act as a catalyst for trusted collaboration between groups.Autistic people – The cultural immune system of human societies | Autistic Collaboration
Using The hyperlink is our most potent weapon in the fight against disinformation.It’s time we brought back the hyperlink and learned how to really use it. It’s time we used information... and contextual computing, we take the written word (and the underlying paradigm about how we work on a computer) from one dimension and convert it to three dimensions.
It is the way for computers to truly serve the role as “bicycles for the mind“.The Growing Movement for Hyperlinking and Contextual Computing
My hope for the Future Of Text is that, as in the past, it will adapt to us as we adapt to it. That it will bring the body—of writer and reader—back into view in all its difference and complexity.Embodying Text, The Future of Text
“I’ve had a fair number of kids that were traditionally disengaged— The most common complaint: ‘I don’t like to write, so I don’t like school.’ When I said, ‘Well, you can type it. You don’t have to write; you can type. And you can use the spell checker, and you can look up words.’ All of the sudden they say, ‘Oh, OK. I’ll do that.’”
“If you’re not a good writer, sitting and writing on a piece of paper is hard. But when they have a computer that can help with spelling, and with grammar, and they can go online and look up words and the pronunciation, and they can hear how it’s said, and they can write it down correctly. Now they feel good about themselves because they’re not getting a paper back with a thousand red marks all over it, correcting grammar and spelling that they don’t necessarily understand in the first place.”Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.
Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.
He was a slow typist. A painfully slow typist. And yet, his typing was about three times as fast as his handwriting, and, in the end there was a perfectly completed job application.SpeEdChange: Toolbelt Theory for Everyone
We asked our building leadership teams, and we asked those Principals and Assistant Principals to ask their teachers, to experience a bit of “writing for empathy.” Medical educators have discovered that when doctors write from the point of view of their patients, empathy increases and the quality of Care work makes all other work possible. Putting care—not just care work, but care—at the center of our economy, our politics, is to orient ourselves around our interdependence. Care is... increases. We thought it might be worth seeing if this applied to our educators as well.
So we began, and told them not to be limited by structure – choose any writing mode you’d like – or grammar or spelling or where or how to write – on the floor, standing up, on paper, on phone, on computer – to just find the emotional path and write.
We so often stop our students from writing… we tell them that everything from how they sit to how they spell is more important than communication… and we thus raise children who hate writing.
This became powerful. People not only chose every and any place to write, every and any device to write on, they chose modes from poetry to an email exchange between high school students in class, from When we successfully reframe public discourse, we change the way the public sees the world. We change what counts as common sense. Because language activates frames, new language is required... to internal monologue to dialogue in the corridor. From tweet and text to song.
It is remarkable what happens when you stop telling people how to write and start encouraging them to write.
“Our kindergartners and first graders are natural writers,” one principal said, “and then we tell them to stop and worry about handwriting and spelling and punctuation, and they never really write again.”SpeEdChange: Writing for Empathy
It is our responsibility to provide every learner with real learning space choices based on task-based and physical comfort-based needs, which not only allow their cognitive energy to be focused on learning but helps students to develop the contemporary skills needed to alter and use spaces to initiate and accomplish collaborative and individual work. This includes the availability of multiple communication tools and contemporary technologies as well as assisting students in understanding and creating a variety of learning products which demonstrate student choices in curriculum, task, technologies, and media.
No child within the Albemarle County Public Schools should need a label or prescription in order to access the tools of learning or environments they need. Within the constraints of other laws (in particular, copyright) we will offer alternative representations of information, multiple tools, and a variety of instructional strategies to provide access for all learners to acquire lifelong learning All healthy and resilient institutions have a well-functioning competency network (Laloux 2014; Wilson 2015). A good way to understand competency networks is via the notion of trustworthiness and the nurturing... and the knowledge and skills specified in curricular standards. We will create classroom cultures that fully embrace differentiation of instruction, student work, and assessment based upon individual learners’ needs and capabilities. We will apply contemporary learning science to create accessible entry points for all students in our learning environments; and which support students in learning how to make technology choices to overcome disabilities and inabilities, and to leverage preferences and capabilities.Seven Pathways
Let’s augment everybody, let’s leave no mind behind.The Future of Text
Bring the Backchannel Forward
Bring the backchannel forward. Embrace written communication as the great equalizer. Backchannels accommodate neurological Pluralism refers to people of diverse and conflicting beliefs coexisting peaceably, linked by their adherence to a shared social contract which commits members of different groups to treating others fairly... while fostering the serendipity of networks. Backchannels are vital parts of the internal networks that allow us to tap into not just “a diversity of voices, but a diversity and divergence of thinking and ideas.” Build such networks in your school with indie ed-tech. Look to distributed work for ways to integrate backchannels into education and workplace cultures.
Excerpted below are selections from teachers, tech workers, and autistic people on the benefits of backchannels.
A backchannel is a separate, often text-based, discussion students engage in while they’re receiving information via a lecture, a movie, a television show, or a PowerPoint presentation. Students use a digital device to participate in a behind-the-scenes chat so as not to disturb others trying to listen.
Backchannels provide the perfect outlet for students who have something to say but refuse to open up in class discussions. When everyone participates in the conversation, no one feels singled out. As a result, inhibitions about sharing decrease and the courage to speak up increases. Plus, when everyone types at once, the teacher spends less time calling on students one by one.
I personally believe that the backchannel is the greatest unharnessed resource that we as educators have available to us. It does not threaten me nor bother me that you learned as much if not more from the backchannel the other night — in fact, it makes me feel great that I facilitated the connection.
And that’s not even touching on the ways this kind of technology supports the shy user, the user with speech issues, the user having trouble with the English Language, the user who’d rather be able to think through and even edit a statement or question before asking it.
Whenever you “teach,” there is a “back channel.” It has always existed in every classroom, every lecture hall, every on-line learning environment.
It includes, “Hey, what did she say?” “This sucks.” “I don’t understand.” “That’s stupid, why doesn’t he answer the question?” “Do you know how to do this?” “When is that paper due?” even, “C’mon, come to the party with me tonight.”
In other words, students are talking, or passing notes, or rolling their eyes at each other as you talk, or asking for answers, or help, or complaining, or wondering, or wishing you’d get to stuff that somehow connected the topic to their interests.
Powerful, powerful stuff.
I couldn’t help wondering, since the study showed the durability of first impressions and the positive response to the written words of Autistics, with all visual and auditory cues removed, could we mitigate childhood bullying in any way by having a class of students meet first online, in text, and form their first impressions of one another in that format before ever meeting face-to-face?
Getting online was revolutionary and may have saved my life.
The difference between offline and online communication could not have been more dramatic.
For the last few years, I’ve been spoiled. I’ve been surrounded by people who, when asked a question, immediately bring out a digital device and look it up. The conferences that I’ve attended have backchannels as a given. Tweeting, blogging, Wikipedia-ing… these are all just what we do.
I have become a “bad student.” I can no longer wander an art museum without asking a bazillion questions that the docent doesn’t know or won’t answer or desperately wanting access to information that goes beyond what’s on the brochure (like did you know that Rafael died from having too much sex!?!?!). I can’t pay attention in a lecture without looking up relevant content. And, in my world, every meeting and talk is enhanced through a backchannel of communication.
Online communication for autistics has been compared to sign language for the deaf. Online, we are able to participate as equals. Our disability is often invisible and we are treated like humans. It provides much needed human contact otherwise denied us.
Source: Dr. Elena M Chandler on Twitter: “Online communication for autistics has been compared to sign language for the deaf. Online, we are able to participate as equals. Our disability is often invisible and we are treated like humans. It provides much needed human contact otherwise denied us. #TheMoreYouKnow… https://t.co/Y2hZT8UBr9”
One could make the argument that autistic people created the very computer environment autistic people are most comfortable in.
In fact, there is pretty good evidence that most of the science, technology, and arts you enjoy are the products of autistic minds.
The results were remarkable. The employees who had used the tool became 31% more likely to find coworkers with expertise relevant to meeting job goals. Those employees also became 88% more likely to accurately identify who could put them in contact with the right experts. They made these gains by observing what their coworkers talked about on Jive-n and with whom. The group that had no access to the tool showed no improvement on either measure over the same period.
These tools can promote employee collaboration and knowledge sharing across silos. They can help employees make faster decisions, develop more innovative ideas for products and services, and become more engaged in their work and their companies.
Inability to tap into the diversity of thinking and novel and new ideas that exists within those networks, severely limits our individual and organizational ability to move into the future in a much more progressive and relevant manner.
It is within these spaces, these networks, that connectivity is acquired and achieved, cognitive resources and idea flows are managed and exchanged, and where provocation for action upon these ideas is often mediated, accelerated and catalyzed.
What we are learning, especially as we look at the scaling up and proliferation of networks across society, and the level of data and knowledge they are providing, is that today’s organizations must learn to support a much more robust and dynamic set of internal and external networks, utilizing a variety of metrics that lead to a greater understanding how divergent idea flows, as well as organizational novelty and innovation Acceptance means training mental health service providers to look at autism and other disabilities as a part of a person's identity, rather than a problem that needs to be fixed. Acceptance... and dissemination can be cascaded across the organizational landscape in much more fluid, clear and coherent manner.
Today’s organizations must be able to unlock and engage both internal and external networks, in an effort to not only tap into a diversity of voices, but a diversity and divergence of thinking and ideas. These networks not only provide a platform for engaging an ongoing flow of the novel and new, they also create a cognitive space to There is nothing more human than play. Humans were designed to learn in play. In fact, nearly all mammals evolved this way.Play's Power At our learning space, we provide learners fresh... with ideas that often leads to not only the creation of new knowledge, but new actions and new ways of working.
Sometimes it takes another person with your specific disability label, not another The existence of the word neurotypical makes it possible to have conversations about topics like neurotypical privilege. Neurotypical is a word that allows us to talk about members of the... teacher or peer, to help the world understand your experience. One of the first books I read about autism was Donna Williams’s memoir Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1998). One of her observations has always struck me as particularly apt: “Communication via objects was safe,” Williams says. For me, computers are objects that can be a bridge to interpersonal connection and growth. Those are things we all want, regardless of our differences.
I have developed a strong preference for written communication, which is a very effective strategy for avoiding the need for linguistic autistic masking.
Computers as the essential prosthetic device for autistics?
InLv members regularly sing the praises of the new medium that allows them to have the form of communication they desire, while protecting them from the overwhelming sensory overload and rapid processing demands of human presence. For many, email lists are their first experience of community. Jane Meyerding, a member of InLv makes clear just how much autistics owe to computer technology:
Like a lot of ACs (autistics and cousins), I find myself able to enjoy “community” for the first time through the internet. The style of communication suits me just fine because it is one-on-one, entirely under my control in terms of when and how long I engage in it, and, unlike real-life encounters, allows me enough time to figure out and formulate my responses. In real-world encounters with groups—even very small groups—of people, I am freighted with disadvantages. I am distracted by my struggle to identify who is who (not being able to recognise faces), worn out by the effort to understand what is being said (because if there is more than one conversation going on in the room, or more than one voice speaking at a time, all the words become meaningless noise to me), and stressed by a great desire to escape from a confusing flood of sensation coming at me much too fast. (Jane Meyerding – Thoughts on Finding Myself Our friends and allies at Randimals have a saying, What makes us different, makes all the difference in the world.Randimals We agree. Randimals are made up of two different animals... Brained, 1998)
Autistics compare the importance to them of computers with the importance of seeing-eye dogs to the blind. Martijn Dekker, who is the ‘owner’ of the InLv email forum, and a prominent autistic activist foreshadows puts it plainly:
For reasons obvious to our HFA/AS community, I consider a computer to be an essential disability provision for a person with Asperger’s. (8 Nov 1998)
On the one hand modern industrialised empires, states, and corporations have unprecedented abilities to influence and manipulate large populations, and on the other hand, there is nothing that can stop autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people from connecting and collaborating across spatial and cultural boundaries.
The Accommodations for Natural Human Variation Should Be Mutual
Real inclusive organizing should at a minimum include: Incorporating disability into your Remind yourself that shared values, rather than shared beliefs, are what matter when it comes to interacting with others, and that there is no replacement for doing the hard work... or action statements; having disabled people on the organizing committee or board; making accessibility a priority from day one; and listening to feedback from disabled people.
We have turned classrooms into hell for neurodivergence. Students with conflicting sensory needs and Accommodation is fundamentally about not changing the person but changing the environment around the person.Normal Sucks: Author Jonathan Mooney on How Schools Fail Kids with Learning Differences Yet on a programmatic... are squished together with no access to cave, campfire, or watering hole zones. This sensory environment feeds the overwhelm -> meltdown -> burnout cycle. Feedback loops cascade.
They don’t take disability studies classes.
They don’t listen to us.
Wanted: hospitals and doctors’ offices that…
They don’t listen to us.
Our multi-age learning community sets up and runs our organization. We don’t use learning management software. Instead, our learners use the professional tools of a modern, neurodiverse organization, without all the ed-tech surveillance baked in. We use technology to co-create paths to EquityA commitment to action: the process of redistributing access and opportunity to be fair and just.A way of being: the state of being free of bias, discrimination, and identity-predictable outcomes... and access with our learners.