Science and technology continue to produce a wealth of creative assistive devices, specialized products and unique services that make work and life easier for all people, especially the challenged. As a result, a previously somewhat marginalized group of the workforce is now able to operate on an almost equal footing with the rest of the working population. Combine enhanced personal skills with the assistive devices and the combination is very powerful.
It is now possible for many disabled and challenged people to enter the workforce and do almost anything that a "normal" person does. There is a growing number of employees who have learning disabilities, reactions, syndromes, and other physical and mental challenges but their assistive devices allow them to operate at a high level despite their difficulties. Assistive technology allows them to put more time and energy into thinking and producing instead of just surviving.
Businesses and corporations often choose to have employees engage in staff development. However, learning must be selected carefully because so much of current knowledge, facts, methods and processes is outdated and obsolete. The best choice for staff development is personal skills training. This is especially true for those employees with physical and mental challenges.
The workforce can conceivably expand dramatically if a difficult question is posed, "How can special needs people be helped to better fit into the whole scheme of things?" There is a positive answer.
Skills are more valuable than ever in the struggle to get people to work more efficiently, rebuild and revamp our economies, and save the planet in general. Skills don't get old and obsolete. Advanced technology and personal skills become perfect partners in helping special needs people contribute positively despite challenges.
For challenged and disabled people, emphasis should be on determining and strengthening their skill set. Assistive devices can then be used to help the skills grow.
Analytical skills, creativity and problem-solving are strongly empowering and are prized abilities in all areas of the workforce. Having a head full of facts and figures has become of lesser value. Knowing "how to" do things is more important. The above skills are not just for able people. They can be taught to anybody at any age and at almost any ability. The difference between being able or disabled is far less when assistive devices are employed.
Personal skills training produces competency and helps people become independent, self-directed learners. When processing skills are strengthened and applied to knowledge and facts, the result is better products and outcomes. Assistive technology enables and extends the expression of learned skills. It can greatly increase speed of acquisition, expression in various media forms, and ultimately the value of outcomes or products.
Educators are vital in discovering and nurturing physical and intellectual skill sets of young children. Special education students learn to use learned skills and technology to achieve many more goals and compete more effectively for their place in the upcoming "new" revamped world. With assistive devices, more can dream of becoming proud, full-fledged, viable members of the workforce. Assistive devices give the most severely challenged people increased mobility and more ways to communicate their ideas more effectively.
The following are some of the personal skills that every person - challenged or not - needs to ensure he/she can survive and thrive in the future. Technology can assist at all stages to ensure the learning is maximized.
How to: invent new products/services. Canada needs to continue to be a breeding ground for innovative and valuable new inventions and ideas. Anybody can be an inventor of assistive devices or other useful products or services!
How to: speak/present professionally, write effectively, read/use body language. We truly do live in a global village and should be prepared to interface with others anywhere in the world. Properly selected assistive devices allow disabled and challenged workers to do the above.
Higher-Level Thinking Skills
How to: analyze, problem-solve, assess little ideas to find the hidden BIG ones, think in an enhanced way, think logically, use inductive/deductive thinking methods. These personal skills are not limited to any particular segment of society.
"How to: increase levels of perception, relax, de-stress, self-motivate, re-energize, recognize success, keep up the spirits despite intense challenges and competition. All people need to know themselves better in order to be the best they can be. These personal skills can be learned by all people including many who are challenged and disabled.
How to: be a leader, develop teams and think tanks, achieve win-win outcomes, handle criticism, improve emotional maturity, determine levels of success. Disabilities and challenges do not have the limitations anymore. Assistive devices help many more people participate effectively in society in leadership roles.
The world is changing dramatically. A very positive aspect is that new technology and assistive devices enhance inclusiveness because they allow almost anybody to be more expressive and therefore more productive. The new Age of Creativity demands people be producers of new learning, not just consumers. Skills training and advanced assistive technology, create a great partnership that helps challenged and disabled people strive, survive and thrive.