The bulk of today's class was focusing on different assistive technologies and watching demonstrations on how many of them work. A woman with a visual impairment was able to use a program called Kerswell 1000 which read things aloud to her. Also, a gentleman with a physical impairment was able to use a program called Dragon which typed out the words he spoke in to a microphone. These technologies made me think about a lot of things.
a) These devices would be fantastic for students with learning disabilities in reading and/or writing. They could use these programs to help them express themselves, as well as, to understand or read text which is assigned in class. These technologies could really help non-literate students.
b) But then I thought... Is literacy needed in the future?
If we can have technologies such as these, do we really need to learn how to read and write if we can get computers to do it for us? Granted, you would need to know how to edit some of your work, however, maybe this would change the way language is used. Jaws is a program which takes scanned copies of things and reads them out. Also, we were show a 'pen' which scans pages upon pages of text and images. These items could be used to scan in books, newspapers, etc. and then the program can READ them back. So, why do we need to teach students how to read?
I decided to ask some of my fellow students this question and it began a good dialogue. One classmate was saying that they enjoy escaping and reading is apart of that. She said that she doesn't think life would be the same without being able to read and lose yourself in a book. At the time I didn't respond, but now I think: can you not do that when someone is reading to you? Isn't that what happens when you are a young child and your parents read to you? Is it absolutely necessary that you actually READ something in order to be immersed in the story? It has been a long time since someone has read to me so I really don't know the answer.
I am an English Major, so this thought of future literacy is really interesting to me. It is all too obvious that technology literacy is the 'new big thing', so if we become technologically literate, will we be okay in the future? Will we soon rely on technology for reading and writing? Will signs soon just be symbols without words? Will a stop sign soon be a a solid red octagon with a white boarder?
I truly wonder. That maybe, one day, only the 'learned' will be the ones who can actually read. Like doctors and Latin. Or, like web designers and CGI code.