Making Assistive Technology Accessible to Latino Families (IL UCEDD)

June 26, 2017

Families Participating in the Make and Take
Families Participating in the Make and Take

Latinos are becoming the largest minority group in the United States. The City of Chicago is made up of 28.9% of people of Latino heritage/descent (e.g. Mexican, Guatemalan, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc). Many Latinos in Chicago are Spanish speakers and understand little to no English. Although the Latino community continues to grow, they have limited access to assistive technology (AT) resources and support because of the language barrier. Unfortunately, the majority of AT materials and training is targeted towards English speakers. Collaborating with the Assistive Technology Unit (ATU) at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Autism Program of Illinois has allowed us to reach out and provide AT support to Latino families who otherwise may not have had the ability to obtain AT support.

The Autism Program of Illinois

With the support of TAP, the ATU conducted a Make and Take featuring Visual Schedules. Materials were prepared in English and Spanish. A small informative workshop was provided with the help of a Spanish interpreter to explain to families the different types of schedules available for them to make and take home. A total of five families participated. Out of the five families, four were Spanish speakers and one was bilingual (English/Spanish). At the end of the workshop, the families filled out a survey evaluating the Make and Take and to let us know what other types of materials they would like to have in the future. All families found our workshop very helpful, and they suggested other visual strategies such as communication books and behavioral supports.

Future projects:

Thanks to TAP's support, the Department of Disability and Human Development is creating a resource room for autistic individuals and their families. Along with the ATU, we are in the process of creating visual supports (English/Spanish) for the resource room. These visual supports are intended to be used as a guide/model for parents and/or autistics individuals to know things that could help them.
In addition, the ATU is preparing a webinar presentation for TAP titled "Use of iPads for Bilingual AAC Communication." This webinar will feature English and Spanish captions. We hope to present this webinar in the month of July.

The Assistive Technology Unit

On June 3rd, 2017, we will be presenting an "All-Spanish" informative workshop about the basics of AT at an Open Access conference. Our workshop will provide Latino families with an overview of what is AT, who can benefit from AT, what type of devices are included (low-tech versus high-tech), an overview of services available in our clinic at UIC, who renders these services, why is AT important, and how to obtain AT. We are also preparing Spanish materials (brochures) for families to take home. Our workshop will allow families to be aware of the types of technology that are available before attending the Chicago Abilities Expo conference. We hope that this information will provide families with basic tools and understanding of what type devices would be beneficial for themselves or their family members.

Future projects:

We are strategizing on what other outreach activities to perform in order to make AT information and services more accessible to Latino families.