“We were emerging into an era that was really transformative for all of us, for our kids and for those of us with disabilities, that it really was going to change what life might look like. And the challenge for all of us was simply to imagine what an answer might be and then to begin to search for people who were approaching those similar kinds of solutions.”
— Jackie Brand
For anyone interested or involved with assistive technology a HUGE part of the story—history, actually—is the Alliance for Technology Access. For anyone new to the field, you may not even know about ATA or its invaluable contributions to so many people with disabilities and their families.
Today, after a Google search for “Alliance for Technology Access,” I got a URL that led to a blank page and a sadness that reflects an organic process that inevitably comes to an end as a grassroots movement morphs into something beyond a founding vision. Things change.
Now, with over thirty years in the field, I continue to witness rebirth, development, innovations, missions and an ongoing vision for accessible and affordable assistive technology. Today, the AT field has evolved and become professionalized which was inevitable and, for the most part, a positive outcome.
With some regret, however, I also watch as AT service delivery is now largely driven by organizational and institutional systems and models that fall short of the sheer energy and creativity of those early years when all one had to do was roll-up one’s sleeves and jump in head first—people with disabilities, mothers, fathers, grandparents, engineers, designers, and mom-and-pop innovators and entrepreneurs that built the AT industry from the garage floor up.