By: Phil Parette and Marcia Scherer
Issues related to stigma and its impact on assistive technology (AT) use with persons having developmental disabilities are addressed. While stigma has been known to be associated with presence of disability for many years, relationship between stigma and AT usage, particularly when working with families across cultures, has only just begun to be examined. Issues confronted by AT decision-making teams related to stigma include family expectations of AT, visibility resulting from use of AT in public settings, and perceptions that children will not attain important developmental skills if they become reliant on devices. While numerous approaches for AT decision-making have been implemented in the field, absence of validity and reliability data related to such approaches emphasizes importance of understanding potential influences of stigma associated with AT use. Specific areas that can contribute to stigmatization include (a) device aesthetics/cosmesis, (b) gender and age appropriateness, (c) social acceptability, (d) sublimation and professional deference, (e) teachers and acceptance of disability, and (f) universal design principles. Importance of future research that explores stigmaand government policy and impact on AT decision-making is noted.