2006 Conference General Sessions




Adriana Carpio

Assistive Learning Consulting, LLC

17 Summitt Ave, Suite 2

Norwalk CT 06854

Direct line: 203-667-1063

Email: apcarpio@yahoo.com


I. Summary

A review of existing Assistive Technology (AT) products for Spanish-speaking consumers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and disabilities, strategies for implementation, and development of AT product.



II. Introduction

This presentation will be relevant for Spanish-speaking consumers of Assistive Technology (AT), families of students, Special Education (Sped) teachers, speech and language clinicians, AT practitioners and suppliers. We will explore the existence of AT products geared towards the Spanish-speaking consumer, reviewing the capabilities and limitations of commercial AT products with Spanish language components and if they can apply themselves adequately to meet the needs of the consumer. We will present a check list for assessing the adaptability of AT products and explain necessary implementation plans for training programs. We will put forth and discuss advocacy strategies for reaching the suppliers of AT to instigate the changes necessary to make AT accessible for the Spanish-speaking consumer.


III. Goals of This Session

- Review capabilities and limitations of commercial AT with Spanish product components

- Present check list for assessing and choosing AT products

- Discuss development of appropriate training programs

- Outline advocacy strategies for improving products for Spanish-speaking consumers


IV. Review of Capabilities and Limitations of AT Products


Most AT manufacturers adapt their products for foreign language through the incorporation of Spanish modes or texts within an English-based program. However, to a consumer whose learning comprehension is in Spanish, these products add a layer of inaccessibility. If AT products are to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking consumers with LEP they need more functional components in the users primary language.


The most common approach or use of AT is in a scenario where the consumer is provided with a computer based in English and an AT program with an English-based interface that can read Spanish text. The existing AT only allows for users to change to a Spanish Speech Synthesizer which reads Spanish language documents adequately, the menus however provide less useful information to a Spanish speaker because they synthesize the English rather than true translation into Spanish. The Help menu uses a similar synthesized version of English in the menu system, which provides an inadequate tool for learning the product for the consumer to solve problems independently. The consumer must rely on tutoring and support with a bi-lingual instructor. At best technology solutions must use products with limitations.


V. Check List for Assessing AT Products with Spanish Language Components


1.  How does AT software program lend itself to the consumer?

- Is the visual interface of the program in Spanish?

- Are the menus in Spanish?

- Are the manual and help systems in Spanish?

- Are the Synthesizers appropriate? Word choice? Accentuation? Dialect?

- How accurate are the translations of the menu interface?


2.  What are some of the approaches we can take to make existing programs more accessible?

- Customization

- Additional tutor messages to enhance instructional information in Spanish


VI. Development of Appropriate Training Programs


AT strategies need to consider how training programs play a role in the success or failure of implementation of products. Appropriate AT strategies need to consider the following: 


1. Are the manuals and help systems provided in the language of the consumer so that the student can then access the material independently?


Manufacturer rarely provide manuals in the native language of the learner making it impossible for the consumer to have access to information to answer questions.


2. Is the translation accurate and able to be understood?


Manuals and help systems even those which are voiced in the native language may be clear or translated correctly. Translations can often use inappropriate language for the consumer (i.e. Castillian/Spain Spanish terms would not read the same as Mexican Spanish) or it may not be a true Spanish translation at all.


3. Are there any barriers to gaining access to instructional material or resource information created by third party sources?


Third party may create additional resources in Spanish and place them on English-based web-sites, making them inaccessible to the consumer.  In addition, some sites provide materials in English without registration, yet ask for registration information from the client who seeks materials in Spanish. This can become a privacy issue for the consumer who may not want to “register” for a product due to legal status and past experience with government monitoring in their homelands.


VII. The Approach to Families of Spanish-Speaking Consumers


A successful AT training strategy with a Spanish-speaking consumer would need to include the family/community using the following methods:


- Introduction of the AT to families in a group environment

- Basic Computer/Internet training for the family

- Providing third party resources or help centers in Spanish


VIII. Advocacy Strategies for Creating and Developing Relevant AT Products


Through advocacy we can change the environment that we work and live in for consumers who are Spanish-speaking and have a disability. Manufacturers need education to better to serve the non-English market of consumers with disabilities. Attendees will receive the contact information for major manufacturers and sample templates for letters and emails. This session will also invite an open discussion of successful advocacy strategies used by participants.


IX. Conclusion

This presentation will serve to educate the attendees on the capabilities and limitations of commercial AT with Spanish speaking components, how to assess appropriate AT products and give methods for implementing AT and developing training programs. In addition, it will lead the attendees to advocate to the manufacturers for having their needs and desires met with AT products.


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