If Scott Davert wasn’t so good at assessing assistive technology and educating others about it, he could have had a career as a comedian or comedy writer. Then again, perhaps his quick wit and sense of humor make him so good at the work he’s done across various jobs in his career to date.
Born blind due to retinal detachment, Scott began losing his hearing in high school due to the same condition that caused his blindness: Norrie disease. Today, Scott can only hear when he’s wearing his hearing aids.
“Not being able to hear anything is great on airplanes – I get a lot of naps,” he jokes.
Scott was mainstreamed throughout his education, starting in grade school. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a double minor in sociology and creative writing, and a master’s degree in vision rehabilitation therapy – all of which he has used in his career.
“I’m very happy I was mainstreamed because it taught me to deal with the real world,” Scott says. “There are some things I’m not the greatest at because there weren’t many classes in independent living. So, I’m a terrible cook, although I might have been anyway.”
Building skills and a career
Scott received some life skills training after earning his bachelor’s degree. The first organization he turned to wasn’t able to accommodate his hearing loss because they were dedicated to helping people who are blind. That’s when he became a student at the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York.
“I had the chance to receive training from someone who I highly respect in the field, who really showed me alternative ways of doing things,” Scott says. “I worked very hard, and after three years, I had the skills I need to do things like take the train into Manhattan and walk around.”
Because his attendance at HKNC was the result of a scholarship, Scott wanted a way to give back, so he volunteered in the adaptive technology department there. At the time, he hadn’t yet earned his master’s degree, but he simply shared what he’d learned at HKNC with other students.
“I really enjoyed doing it,” Scott says, “and it seemed like what I was doing was effective for those students. So that really guided my journey through grad school, and I still came back to volunteer in the summer.”
In fact, Scott liked the work so much that he offered to work in unpaid internships if HKNC would provide room and board, which they did. During his internships, Scott worked in case management, adaptive technology, and the Communications Learning Center.
Working hard pays off
After earning his master’s degree, Scott applied for a job at HKNC – and he was hired.
“That was my first job in the field, essentially teaching braille,” he explains. “But it was also teaching banking and budgeting, and I started integrating braille displays into some of my training and telling students about some of the devices to help them with those tasks.”
After three years, HKNC transferred him to Denver to serve as a Regional Representative, but when a position opened up to run the ICanConnect program for New York state, he returned to HKNC’s headquarters for that job. ICanConnect is a federal program that provides free adaptive equipment to people who meet certain income criteria and have a combined vision and hearing loss that impacts communication.
“I was one of the hundreds of people who advocated for this program,” Scott says, “so it was an honor to come back to run the program for New York State for two years.”
Coming full circle
Scott went on to work as a Deafblind Specialist for North Carolina State, which included setting up initiatives for the area’s deafblind community, such as socializing. During that time, he also served on the Disability Advisory Committee for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He later worked for Sprint (now T-Mobile), promoting some of their technology for people who are deafblind.
What’s more, since 2011 Scott has been writing technology articles – his first being for APH VisionAware. He is also a member of the editorial staff at AppleVis, a community-driven website that promotes the accessibility of Apple products, third-party applications, and accessories. In addition, Scott is a contributor for American Foundation for the Blind’s AccessWorld, where he writes about braille displays from a deafblind perspective.
In 2021, Scott returned to HKNC as Coordinator of the Technology, Research and Innovation Center. He primarily works with adults who have combined vision and hearing loss but also conducts train-the-trainer programs and works with technology and assistive technology companies. What’s more, his job includes writing reviews of braille devices and other technologies for people who are blind, low vision, or deafblind.
“I write the articles mostly to spread awareness about issues or problems I find, so if someone gets a product, they know what they’re in for,” Scott says. “But I send it to the company to allow them to either correct any inaccuracies or address whatever issues I’ve raised. In an ideal situation, we end up with a better product and a better review – and everybody wins.”
Scott has even more to share about his career experiences in what’s sure to be a lively conversation. Join the APH ConnectCenter for a CareerConversation on June 1st, 2023 at 6 p.m. Eastern as we interview Scott and provide time for the audience’s career-related questions! Register here.