The above photos reflect the use and implementation of various ‘Assistive technologies’, utilized by my former student Darrell Tait. Darrell was in a tragic accident that certainly changed his life. A testament to his own innovative intellect and passion, Darrell has been so creative in using and creating new assistive technologies, that enable him to pursue his interests and celebrate his amazing gifts.
Assistive Technology, in its most effective form, does exactly what Darrell notes at the end of the video. Enables students to push their limits. More importantly it should promote opportunity, growth and possibility. It engages.
Sadly, students who learn differently likely have faced many barriers and have had so many difficulties within the traditional classroom. Also, students who learn differently also may feel stigmatized.
Look at the diagram below. What is problematic about this model, particularly in a school context?
Below is a traditional overview of how Assistive technology is framed – please review.
from the site:
What is Assistive technology for Learning Disabilities (LD)?
AT for kids with LD is defined as any device, piece of equipment or system that helps bypass, work around or compensate for an individual’s specific learning deficits. Over the past decade, a number of studies have demonstrated the efficacy of AT for individuals with LD. 1 AT doesn’t cure or eliminate learning difficulties, but it can help your child reach her potential because it allows her to capitalize on her strengths and bypass areas of difficulty. For example, a student who struggles with reading but who has good listening skills might benefit from listening to audio books.
In general, AT compensates for a student’s skills deficits or area(s) of disability. However, utilizing AT does not mean that a child can’t also receive remedial instruction aimed at alleviating deficits (such as software designed to improve poor phonic skills). A student could use remedial reading software as well as listen to audio books. In fact, research has shown that AT can improve certain skill deficits (e.g., reading and spelling).2,3
AT can increase a child’s self-reliance and sense of independence. Kids who struggle in school are often overly dependent on parents, siblings, friends and teachers for help with assignments. By using AT, kids can experience success with working independently.
To break this ‘problem open’ watch this VERY INSIGHTFUL TED talk:
An inclusive classroom recognizes that all students learn differently. The speaker in the TED talk identifies an important concept called ‘Universal Design’.
The Key Idea here is that: ALL STUDENTS BENEFIT FROM THE SUPPORTS AND ACCOMMODATIONS DESIGNED FOR STUDENTS CONSIDERED DISABLED!
THEREFORE, ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES ARE AMAZING RESOURCES FOR ALL STUDENTS!
A More Useful Model?
HOW DOES OUR WORLD (OR SCHOOL / CLASSROOM) DISABLE STUDENTS?
How does the Universal Design for Learning (as outlined by Jan Wilson) challenge us? What are the links to the content of this course?
Jan identifies some key ideas in the last quarter of the video.
Your Job this Week:
Explore the Web and find three blogs that identify how technology is being used in classrooms to support ‘Universal Design for Learning’. What and how are assistive technologies being used to the benefit of everyone?
Post your findings on your blog using speech to text software.
Twitter your insights into using text to speech to on the class hashtag.