Book Review of Living in the State of Stuck: How Technology Impacts the Lives of Persons with Disabilities
Living in the State of Stuck: How Technology Impacts the Lives of Persons with Disabilities
by Marcia J. Scherer
Cambridge, Mass.: Brookline Books, 1996. xvii, 181 p.
The title of this book caught my attention. What is a "state of stuck"? My experience as a special education teacher led me to envision lives caught in the web of harsh reality, halted by accident or accident of birth from realization of their full potential; I wondered further what could be said about the glass ceiling that hadn't been said before by others.
Dr. Marcia Scherer takes us on a tour of the lives of men and women who use a variety of assistive and adaptive devices in an effort to lift that glass ceiling. She tells us about Jim, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and creatively used the resources available including the ADA laws to enable him to perform successfully as an accountant in a high-powered company. And about Ken, whose crippling accident as a young adult led him into a career as a successful and compassionate rehab counselor. Dr. Scherer contrasts the experiences of those born with a disability who struggle against the service providers for opportunities to attain independence, with the experiences of those with a disability acquired in adolescence or later who struggle against service providers to maintain their individuality in their efforts toward independence.
In addition to the people stories, Dr. Scherer's text includes a tremendous amount of information about the current state of rehabilitation. She includes a brief history of rehabilitation practices, defines some perspectives on "success" in the field, and brings forth the viewpoint of clients regarding the quality of life available to them. She looks at the impact of high tech in the field of rehabilitation, focuses on the hopes and perceptions as well as the reality, and discusses the challenges of matching devices to persons consistent with the individual's lifestyle and goals. She concludes the book with strong recommendations for personalizing the delivery of services to individuals with disabilities.
Marcia Scherer's stories may not wring tears from her readers, but she evenly portrays how "The State of Stuck" limits the potential of persons with crippling disabilities in spite of the tremendous successes of devices and laws to enable them. Dr. Scherer ties her observations to some of the prominent theories in motivation and personality. She includes descriptions of many devices that are useful in special education and rehabilitation, along with information on where these devices can be obtained. She also highlights the need for a team effort among producers and users of adaptive and assistive devices with special education and rehabilitation practitioners in order to achieve maximum utility of these devices.
_Living In The State Of Stuck_ provides good insight into the personal needs and desires of rehabilitation clients. The book should be on the recommended reading list for those entering the rehabilitative and special education fields. It is highly recommended to practitioners of both fields as well as to family, friends, co-workers and employers of persons with disabilities. Those with no current ties to those with disabilities will also find this book interesting and highly informative.