In the field of human services, it is important that the management and administration of a certain agency update their methods of processing information and organizing the tasks with the everyday challenge of satisfying the customer’s different needs. Presently, technology has been fast-evolving that with new innovations at hand, people in the human services departments of agencies that cater the society should also take hold of such developments. It is true that technology is a way of updating and developing the method in which a given agency operates. But that is not all; technology, in some cases can be the only solution to a given problematic issue in human services. On these specific cases, technology not only makes tasks easier but also enables a complicated work to be done in which without technology, is impossible to achieve.
Technology solutions can be employed in many of the barriers in human services regarding planning, funding, empowerment and the services itself. Some of these barriers are vision, hearing, learning or cognitive, physical and economic barriers (ATAccess, 2005). Although these barriers were intended to explain barriers in web access, they can also be considered as barriers that social service agencies face in their everyday interaction with clients. This can be evident in many situations. Nevertheless, the goal of this paper is to discuss three of these barriers in detail and offer suggestions as to how these three barriers can be effectively conquered. The barriers to be discussed are learning or cognitive, physical and economic barriers. To better understand the succeeding discussions, the barriers concerned with social service should first be clarified.
Learning or cognitive barriers in the field of social services are those that concern the difficulty in understanding the technologies at hand of the employees or agents. This is also the given illiteracy of the dental staff in computer software and applications. Another example of this type is that which concerns the user-friendliness of the dental website to customers who communicate with the office through the internet. The next set of barriers is the physical barrier. If the learning or cognitive barrier involve not understanding how the software or available technology works, the physical barrier entails the disability of the users of the computer in utilizing the different peripherals such as the mouse (ATAccess, 2005). Lastly, when conversing about economic barriers, the questions that arise would be those that comprise issues of finance, profit, cost and expenses. Such type of barriers is very common with social services since it is very significant in the management of funding and stability of the agency.
Upon discussing the different barriers that challenge social service and human service providers, it is presently appropriate to explain in detail in what specific areas do these barriers produce negative and problematic circumstances. In so discussing such areas, it is also appropriate to recommend ways in which these particular barriers in the development of social and human services can be surmounted. For a clearer examination of these possible technological solutions to developmental barriers, one should first assume some important features that are commonly and already assembled in a typical social service office so that in discussing each aspect, it would only entail the current issues that govern matters of technological solutions, specifically, those of computer software and applications with a little bit of hardware peripherals and add-ons. Describing a typical social or human service office, one shall often see computers, whether desktops or laptops and these sets are connected to the internet. In addition, the computers are networked and make use of operating systems for utilization. Moreover, operating systems are those macro applications that run other application software needed by the users (Patterson, 2000, p. 52).
Conversely, what actually precedes such assumption concerns a particular barrier which is the economic barrier. A social service agency often experiences financial breakdowns. The expenses of the office are generating much credit than the profit of the organization could come up with. This is usually observed with agencies fighting to stabilize their services and yet refuses to introduce technology in their organization. Particularly, these offices do all of their tasks and papers and all sorts of labor manually without the use of technological aides. Thus, much finance is needed since much time is required to finish any of these works. In order to cut costs, thus, it is suitable that the agency invest on computers and operating systems as well as on information systems that can simplify the work in the office.
Although at the start, a lot of money is needed to modernize the office, employing technology will pay off through time since work is done easier and faster and so, needed services are obtained by clients quicker. Planning of activities and tasks becomes uncomplicated with the use of information management applications such as Microsoft Outlook while funding can be better generated since trust and efficiency is exhibited to potential benefactors through sharing of information by the use of report generating applications. In addition, digitalizing the office will increase the morale of the staff thus, boost the staff’s empowerment. Furthermore, lesser expenses will be required if the agency purchases an operating system where all other crucial applications are included such as word processing, presentation, spreadsheet, database and report generating applications into one (Patterson, 2000, p. 65).
Given that computers are already part of the management of tasks, another barrier to staff empowerment is the inability of office workers to exploit the technology’s uses. This barrier is often termed as cognitive or learning barrier. In the past, this is totally disastrous because GUIs were not yet available, but with the advent of GUIs, such barrier is conquered. GUIs or graphical user interfaces allows easier manipulation of computers by simplifying computer commands (Patterson, 2000, p. 50). Thus, instead of remembering various commands, the office worker can just click and hover the mouse throughout the screen. Moreover, operating systems include utilities in their packages when purchased.
Utilities are programs made to perform very specific functions to aid the use of computers (Patterson, 2000, p. 67). One of which is the help utility where the user can find all he needs to learn about how to use a particular application. Another very practical solution of battling cognitive learning where staff members do not have the proficient capacity to learn the use of technologies is that of wizards embedded in the applications. For example, using a database application such as Microsoft Access has become less complicated because of help wizards that guide the user step-by-step in creating a database needed by the agency from start to finish (Patterson, 2000, p. 128). Thus, while learning how to use the application, the office worker simultaneously accomplishes what is required of him.
The physical barrier to the development of human and social services concerns those who have physical disabilities that prevent them from using the traditional hardware of the computer. Such examples include those that are incapable of using the mouse and those that have a difficulty seeing the screen details. In such circumstances, advanced technology can be employed to solve the predicaments. Some of the included technologies that can be utilized in the purchase of an operating system resolve the issues regarding physical barriers such as embedded mouse and text-to-speech applications that help users to operate the computer. In substitute for a mouse, one can use an embedded mouse on the numpad of a computer. Another solution is that of touch screens where the user need only to point on particular icons on the screen to execute a command (ATAccess, 2005). Furthermore for persons who have a difficulty reading the screens or for blind individuals, text-to-speech applications may be used. Such software enables the computer to read texts that appear on a screen thus allowing the user to hear the options available for execution.
There are a number of technological solutions on how to overcome barriers in the development and improvement of the social services. Application softwares are just a few of the possible ways to further improve services. Interestingly, in some situations, it is even possible that another application become a solution to an existing inaccessible application particular of an individual person. Furthermore, staff members can find ways on how difficulties should be overcome in the most efficient method by employing applications that are specifically designed for such situations. Summarily, technology can always be a solution to any problem which concerns the increase of ease of processes and works in the office and in the home as well.
Patterson, D.A. (2000). Personal Computer Applications in the Social Services. Allyn & Bacon, a Pearson Education Company.
ATAccess. (2005). Designing and Understanding Accessible WWW Pages. Retrieved July 21, 2008, from http://www.ataccess.org/rresources/webaccess.html/.