Happy Friday! Who’s ready for the weekend? You are about to (or already have) punched the clock, and it’s time to have a little fun, so naturally, it’s time for another edition of Fedora’s, Follow Friday series.
This week, we will be talking with Steve Sawczyn of Assistive Technology Services of Maine (A T Maine). Over the years A T Maine has provided nation-wide training, consultation and support to individuals, government agencies and the private sector.
I picked Steve Sawczyn (@SteveOfMaine) of A T Maine to interview this week because, even though his company may be a small, Steve saw a need to provide assistive technology to the blindness community and others. Steve is also a very interesting person with a great deal of knowledge in the assistive technology field, so I know you’ll enjoy hearing from him.
You are probably asking yourself, “Why does Fedora Outlier follow AT Maine in the first place?” Good question!
At Fedora Outlier, it is our goal to provide top quality consulting, teaching and support for a wide range of mainstream and assistive technology. One of the services we offer is remote access teaching, which is a unique concept specific to assistive technology. Steve Sawczyn and Assistive Technology Services of Maine (A T Maine) provides this type of training, along with on-site training, as well.
Sit down and take a peek into the conversation I had with Steve about AT Maine, his background and how he’s using Twitter. Ready? Set? Go!
Brie Rumery: What were some of the main reasons for creating Assistive Technology Services of Maine?
Steve Sawczyn: The main reason for starting A T Maine was that I encountered people who wanted to learn something, but who couldn’t without first going through some type of program or curriculum that would teach them things that weren’t at all relevant. Often, this process would consume a great deal of time and money ultimately leading to disinterest or disillusionment on the part of the student. I wanted to try and approach learning from a different way, from a more top-down approach where a goal would be defined and then the steps put in place to reach that specific goal. Also, at the time, the concept of distance learning, especially accessible distance learning was somewhat new and I saw great potential for this type of training.
BR: What type of assistive technology training platforms do you offer?
SS: Throughout the years, I have provided training on a number of platforms including but not limited to the good ‘ol fashioned Braille ‘N Speak to today’s latest and greatest gadgets. My fought has always been to look at the ways each piece of technology can be of benefit to someone and approach training from that angle, not to settle on one specific technology or platform. This of course makes things a bit more challenging for me as there are always new things to learn and changes to keep up with, but that’s honestly half the fun.
BR: How do the services that you provide through your company differ from similar assistive technology firms?
SS: The services that I provide through A T Maine differ from typical mainstream assistive technology companies are that I tailor my instruction to what the student is interested in learning. Although following a pre-determined curriculum works for many folks, I found that it didn’t work well for everyone, especially those needing to accomplish something very specific for work, personal enrichment, or enjoyment. I’m not afraid to deviate from a curriculum, try new things and change direction if things just aren’t working, I think that’s somewhat unique.
BR: Are the majority of your clients intimidated by the advancement of the accessibility of today’s technology?
SS: I wouldn’t say that the majority of my clients are intimidated by today’s technology but there is a very large group of individuals who do fall into this category. The lack of self-confidence, proper instruction and lifestyle can be large obstacles for those wanting to learn how to use the technology of the 21st century. However, with the proper instruction and determination, it is possible to overcome these obstacles.
Editor’s Note: Currently Steve’s weekly Assistive Technology Show is on hold due to an operating system conflict. He hopes to have it back up and running quite soon. Technology is so temperamental at times!
BR: What is the premise of the Assistive Technology Show?
SS: In a nut shell, the Assistive Technology Show is a place in which people can ask various blindness related questions in an informal atmosphere. To learn more about the show, read some of the archives or join the mailing list just visit atmaine.com.
BR:Why did you feel the need to use Twitter as one of your social networking platforms?
SS: To be honest, I just love Twitter and there are a number of people that I follow, people that are active in assistive technology, accessibility, and many other interests of mine. Twitter is a fantastic way to learn information from others and to keep up with news sources, blogs, individuals of interest and , well, just about everything. I wanted to be part of all that and haven’t looked back. The show has its own Twitter, @atshow, and I have one as well, @steveofmaine.
Let’s put a feather in Steve’s hat for joining us this week, and enlightening all of us about A T Maine. If you are not following him or his company on Twitter then I suggest that you do so. Its companies like his that are enhancing the lives of the blindness community.
Each and every Friday, you’ll find a new and interesting person, brand or organization that is enriching the lives of those who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind. If you are not already following @Fedora_Outlier on Twitter, then you are definitely missing out on the latest technology news, interesting stories and much, much more. Feel free to drop us a tweet when you follow us on Twitter!