Group AT training: When is too early?

When you begin using a new piece of software, there are a lot of things to learn. Some new concepts perhaps, certainly some new hotkeys and maybe a whole new work method. But when are you ready to start training with a group? I was wondering what other AT trainers think in that regard.

When you use a screen reader you have to pay attention to what it´s saying, of course, but you also have to listen to what the trainer is talking about. For a beginner, this can be a tough task. Now, without going into the training itself, what about group training in that regard. Why? Well, in Scandinavia it is not uncommon that people are placed in group training pretty early. For example, it´s not untypical that you get prescribed your screen reader and synthesizer, the software is installed and you are then booked for group training on how to use your prescribed software.

This order of doing things is what I don´t agree with. I feel that if you have little or no experience with using a screen reader, then you should first receive a few training sessions alone with the trainer, just to get the basics down. What I´m afraid of is that if you go direct into group training you simply will not be able ask the questions you need or get the opportunity to work at the pace that best suits you. It sort of goes without saying that when working with others, you have to accept that the work pace probably will not be at optimal speed for everyone there. Now, if we had unlimited time for everyone this perhaps wouldn´t be such a big problem. You could then decide to partake in the course again, if need be. But sadly this is not the case. Time is limited and most users would gladly like to have more training on their prescribed software. Why then is this accepted as OK? Why is it OK that people are placed in group training to soon, sometimes immediately, to learn how to use their assistive technology?

This brings me to a previous post I wrote about how we can improve AT training

It would be interesting to hear what people think about this.

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