They are a collection of mini-markets, with products offering a wide variety of help from minor to major, across a wide field of disabilities.
Today I want to briefly discuss one of the mildest such disabilities, the thin edge of the wedge if you will. Specifically, dyslexia.
I have a child with dyslexia. We used a variety of computer software tools to try and help her. But it was eventually something beyond tech, the skills of a trained teacher, that changed her life. We learned that there are a variety of ways to learn -- by seeing, by hearing, by doing -- and that our daughter was a highly tactile learner. She had to get her hands on the letters and their relationship to one another. One of our most effective techniques was to spread shaving cream on our glass dining table and have her spell words into it.
A tool that held much promise, but has been barely used (so far) is Inspiration. This is actually an outliner, but its user interface lets a kid see it making a mind map. I once saw the mind map one of my child's teachers used to give a two-hour lecture -- it was just a collection of cloud-like thought balloons, each pointing toward a central point.
I say that Inspiration has yet to be used because, after a decade of struggle, that child of mine has been asked to join the honor's program in English at her junior college. She will have to write longer papers there, and may finally make use of the tool.
As you can see, this is a relatively minor disability -- or was so in her case. And it was pure luck that led us to the school which helped, a school which has since closed. It is this whole problem of identifying problems and specific solutions, this people-intensive work for which there is never adequate payment available -- that remains our greatest challenge across the board. Setting up this help, then bringing people to it, this is the continuing struggle and challenge in assistive technology that will always go well beyond the technology itself.
At least on the thin edge of the wedge.