As millennials start to enter the workforce, businesses need to understand those with Learning Disabilities need the tools appropriate to their needs to be productive. Many adults that have learning disabilities are undiagnosed. BYOD is an assistive technology for many people and there are more millennials who are aware of their needs due to Learning Disability associations such as the LDAO advocating for students .
While I am not an expert in Learning Disabilities, I understand enough about enterprise software, design and management that the wrong technology for an individual can become an inhibitor not an enabler to productivity. Like housing; applications and technology need to be accessible to people. As a result there are design and implementation considerations. Accessibility is one of the key attributes of mobility that business needs to leverage.
Learning disabilities as a use study for BYOD has not been included as a topic of conversation in technology design. Having family members that have learning challenges, I understand how technology can bridge the gap between frustration and productivity. BYOD and mobility is more than the ability to work from home. As parents and educators become aware of the impact of learning disabilities there is a gap between the technology policies in education and business.
While many organizations are building their own BYOD policies for education and business in the end they are creating silo’s of technology strategy. Many of the key concepts in education are ones that business can leverage in building a core BYOD policy to be expanded. Creating a BYOD policy where there is education and business alignment is critical as this is the basis for a resource pool transitioning from a baby boomer to a millennial workforce.
Many mobile applications and interface technologies engage using visual, audio and verbal communication. Not all technologies work for people the same way and may require a combination of solutions. Leveraging technology as a learning tool is a key element of productivity whether in education or business. This is something that traditional IT needs to understand as its goal is to create a standard uniform interface centrally managed and locked down. Personalization needs to be a key component of any design. The challenge is that not all people learn or produce the same way. Frustration is the easiest way to kill an individuals productivity and creativity.
While building a BYOD policy there are resources to be leveraged within education. Individuals such as Michael Kerr who blogs at Kerrlaboration does workshops on education technology; identifies applications and tools. Individuals with or without learning disabilities can leverage these resources. The key point is that applications can have multiple uses for a varied audience.
Technology needs to meet the needs of the user to encourage productivity. While standardization may encourage cost reduction it does not equate to productivity. Many students have educational exemptions to use their own devices and applications (with guidance) to learn, be tested and produce content. The challenge is when that student enters the workforce. A business environment is different from an educational one and there are biases that exist. Many graduating students don’t feel comfortable disclosing this information to employers. There might be personal reasons or a less than supportive workplace environment.
Business and IT would be wise to leverage the knowledge of groups that specialize in learning disabilities such as the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario & The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada or groups in your local region. Focusing on these needs of the person puts in place an effective technology strategy with BYOD where productivity is possible.