Assistive Technology in the Classroom By Jessica Gibbs
Students with Disabilities Working with students with disabilities while keeping the rest of the class on track and moving forward can be a balancing act…
Thanks to assistive technology, the lives of teachers just got a little bit easier Let us start with a vocabulary lesson: Assistive Technology-promotes independence through the use of assistive, adaptive or any rehabilitation device.
IDEA-any law regarding special education and subsequent reauthorizations usually fall under the umbrella of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA seeks to ensure that “all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living” (Technology Integration).
Individualized Education Plan (IEP)- describes the goals the student must achieve within the academic year. The IEP is usually created by a team of professionals that monitor the child and determine appropriate goals. Some examples of disabilities that may qualify for special services are hearing impairment and learning disabilities. For a more complete list visit: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/iep.html
How do you choose what type of technology to use? According to LD Online, there are 6 steps to finding a solution using assistive technology
Step One: Collect information about the child and family assess strengths and abilities. What works well?
Step Two: Identify Activities for Participation. What is distracting the child from participating?
Step Three: How will we know that the strategies have been successful?
Step Four: After deciding the activity and the outcome, it is time to brainstorm about possible solutions. What type of support would be useful and is available?
Step Five: It is time to observe. Implement the assistive technology plan for an experimental time frame. Make a note of how the child is handling the assistive technology.
Finally, Step Six: What worked? What did not work? How can this be adjusted? Using the most effective assistive technology is a matter of trial and error to determine what works best.
In my classroom I am faced with three types of disabilities: ADHD, Auditory Disabilities, and Mild Learning Disabilities The following is an overview of each disability and some examples of assistive technology that may be beneficial to these students.
ADHD Non-technological Support: Exercise Cut down on clutter Avoid excessive noise Keep directions short and sweet Use a “kusch ball” to divert extra energy Technological Support: The use of lab tops has been proven to be helpful in keeping students with ADHD on task. Using various forms of audiovisual technology can enhance participation as well For more in depth discussion of technology and ADHD visit http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/adhd-and-your-child/ exercise-natural-adhd-therapy.aspx
Auditory Disability Technological Support: FM Systems work like personal radios using special frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission One-to-One Communicators are used in busy places to amplify the sound of an individual’s voice as opposed to every noise in the environment. This is great for hearing lectures without amplifying distracting white noise Fire Alarm Paging systems are becoming more popular as well Non-technological Support: Stay in one place. This makes it easier for the student to use speech reading (Including) Write important directions on the chalk board Use as many visual aids as possible Assign the student a buddy in case of emergencies
Mild Learning Disabilities Technological Support: Word processors are considered one of the most beneficial because it offers spelling and grammar checks, allows teachers to make suggestions on the page, and provides students with options for various fonts and styles to keep them interested Non-technological Support: Flow-charts, webbing, and outlining can help students organize their thoughts
Learning Disabilities Continued More Technological Support… Calculators Internet access Access to tutorials, drills, and simulations Multimedia, such as pictures and videos “NetLibrary” offers students access to audiobooks This is especially helpful for students who have difficulty drawing meaning from written text. <http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/assistive-technology/reading-tools.gs?content=948>
References Technology Integration for Meaningful Classroom Use A Standards-Based Approach Including Students with Special Needs http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/iep.html http://www.ldonline.org/article/8088 http://www.ldonline.org/article/Teaching_Children_with_Attention_Deficit_Hyperactivity_Disorder%3A_Instructional_Strategies_and_Practices http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/assist_tech.htm http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-1/assistive.htm http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/assistive-technology/reading-tools.gs?content=948
References Continued http://www.uet.edu.pk/Conferences/icosst2009/images/technology_v1.jpg http://www.learning-disability.info/images/learning_disability/learning_disability_385x261.jpg http://www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov/StaticResources/images/boygirl_whisper.jpg