Dr. Sheila Bridges-Bond, a professor in the Department of Communication Disorders (DCD) at North Carolina Central University, discusses things you should consider when working with children from diverse backgrounds. She is an expert on augmentative/alternative communication service delivery to culturally/linguistically diverse families. Dr. Bridges-Bond is also the founder/director of the Assistive Technology for Infants and Preschoolers Project, (ATIPP) an inclusive therapeutic preschool that implements assistive technology (AT) supporting communication, literacy and learning.
Dr. Sheila Bridges-Bond:
I tend to talk about assistive technology from three aspects, what I refer to as ADLs. The A refers to accessibility, the D to diversity, and the L to looking at language and literacy. So when I look at an application of assistive technology, particularly its application for individuals from linguistically diverse backgrounds, I like to refer to the ADLs. One critical aspect of that model is that the D stands for diversity and to recognize that all children come with a language and that that language is acquired and communicated in a cultural context. And often children who come from different language backgrounds of course bring their culture with them. So I think it’s critical for educators, for teachers, not to overlook the cultural background of children because language is a vehicle in which culture grows. And vice versa, there’s kind of that symbiotic relationship. So always to remember whether that child is non-verbal or not, they still exist within a language or linguistic community. That’s the verse that reflects their cultural community and the culture of their family, and the language that they’re hearing. So technology is critical in that with today’s technology we can create communication devices that can be multi-lingual and so they can communicate with pictures, can communicate with words from a first language or a home language, and can also communicate in a language that might be in their learning environment or their developmental environment.