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University of Connecticut Assistive Technology Oral History Project

John Crick

Date: October 21, 2010

When John was a teacher in Northampton, England, the new head of the school seemed very impressed with what a computer could do for their students, most of whom had physical disabilities. He said if anybody was interested they should come and see him. One minute after the meeting John knocked on his door and said he was really interested, and that's how it all started.

His role with technology increased so that he was getting kids connected to equipment, and finding appropriate software, all very new at the time.

At that time, most of the software seemed to have been designed for adults. So John got the idea for a program with a grid with words that would go into a computer
to be scanned, simple to set up, and changed instantly without using a complicated editor.

John began working at all hours because he loved it and because programming is very addictive and that's how his first version of Clicker software was born. When John's wife Ann looked at what he was doing and said "That would be a fantastic tool for teaching my kids I'm working with in helping them with their writing," they decided this wasn't just a specialist tool for switch-users, but for a much bigger audience.

Someone once told him "John, it's such a simple idea. It's amazing nobody thought of it before!" He decided that really was a huge compliment because he feels the simple things are always the best. Teachers could use this technology instead of some sort of complicated software that was clever, but not usable.

John said, "We really stumbled on the principle of universal design – we discovered that if you design software with the least able users in mind, it actually makes it better for everyone!"

Snippet 1: "How did you become so involved in technology?"

Snippet 2: "How did Crick Software get started?"


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