iVideo Task Rationale By T Gray NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION Part A Rationale: Assistive technology for students with vision and hearing impairments Children with special needs are often faced with a multitude of obstacles and barriers from the moment they step into a classroom. Childrens’ disabilities typically fall under one of three categories; Physical, Sensory or Intellectual (Foreman, 2008). Whilst specialised schools for students with disabilities are still available in NSW, educators have pushed for more support in promoting inclusion for these students in mainstream schools. The NSW Teachers Federation (2010) stated that in the decade 1997-‐2007, the number of children with disabilities enrolled in mainstream classes rose from 5000 in 1997, to 26, 154 in 2007. With more children straying from traditional ‘special schools’ there has been an increase in the need for assistive technology in mainstream schools across Australia. Assistive (or Adaptive) technology is any form of technology that enhances students’ educational performance. Foreman (2008) states that the use of assistive technology usually involves “overcoming barriers to learning through improved access to and participation in learning environments” (p. 444). Whilst the term ‘Assistive Technology’ is only fairly recent in education, great developments have been made since its introduction. It was initially introduced to assist those students with low-‐incidence disabilities, for example physical disabilities (Blalock, cited in Wheaton Shorr, 2005). With continual upgrading of technology taking place, assistive technologies have become available for many more students such as those with hearing and vision impairments, learning difficulties and behavioural problems. Assistive technology has numerous benefits for students and teachers alike. The School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Buffalo (2005) state that assistive technology ‘…can provide both routine and customized access to the general curricula for students with disabilities’ (para.2). Providing ‘customised access’ to the standard K-‐6 curriculum is crucial for students with disabilities attending a mainstream school; these students need to be included in regular classroom activities as much as possible, and the use of assistive technologies allow opportunities for this inclusion to occur. In my digital response, I have chosen to focus specifically on students with sensory impairments (hearing and vision loss). Children with these impairments often face the greatest challenge in becoming an included member of their class, as their disabilities require much more attention and understanding from their teachers and peers. The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (2010) state that by approximately the age of five, two in every thousand children will have been identified with hearing loss. Additionally, they state that “Vision impairment affects more than one in 2500 children in Australia” (Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, 2010, para. 2). Due to continual breakthroughs in technology, there have been significant improvements to Assistive technologies for students with sensory impairments in the classroom over recent years. Devices that can be used to enhance learning include
iVideo Task Rationale By T Gray NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION screen readers and screen magnification devices, braille readers, picture keyboards, tape-‐recorded books, hearing aids, text-‐speech devices and speech-‐text devices (Foreman, 2008; The School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Buffalo, 2005). Furthermore, devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod have proven to be beneficial for these students in the classroom. Applications such as ‘iSayit’ prompt students to type text which can be translated to speech and saved for future use. Also, ‘Eye glasses’ allows students to magnify anything on the screen up to 6 times its original size (Sailers, 2010). The inclusion of these technologies in the classroom can be extremely beneficial, if used correctly and effectively by the teachers of the students with sensory impairments. White, Shelley & Donna 2003 (cited in Foreman 2008) state that “successful implementation is, to a large extent, dependent on the knowledge, skill and commitment of the classroom teacher. The main aim of my iVideo is to empower teachers to improve their knowledge on Assistive technologies and their skills in using it, to improve and enhance students’ learning outcomes. Although most universities now aim to improve pre-‐service teachers’ knowledge on integrating technology into the classroom, most teachers have little experience in using Assistive technologies for students with severe disabilities (Roblyer, 2004). Smith, Kelley, Maushak, Griffin-‐Shirley and Lan (2009) state that there are various reasons for the lack of use of Assistive technologies in the classroom. These include but are not limited to; lack of resources, inability of educators to stay up-‐to-‐date with ever-‐changing technologies and limited time for organisation, preparation and programming. Whilst these issues can be relevant I believe educators of children with disabilities have the responsibility to ensure they know how, when and where to use these technologies and this needs to be done by instilling confidence and motivation, something I hope to convey strongly through my iVideo. Educational blogger Kathy Shields makes a valid point for 21st century teachers to consider; “Instead of saying, ‘Stop the world, I want to get off.’, why not make a resolution to help the world keep spinning?” (para. 1, Shields, 2007). In using these technologies, there are numerous implications for regular classroom teachers. Firstly, having a student with a sensory impairment in a mainstream class can create various obstacles such as inclusion in regular learning experiences, individualized attention and the balance between activities that require the use of an assistive device and those that don’t. Söderström, Sylvia and Ytterhus, Borgunn (2010) state that for young people with a disability, accessible assistive technology “that can enable interaction with their peers, regardless of time and place” is paramount. Assistive technologies are extremely useful and beneficial for students with disabilities. They create opportunities for independence, allow for improved productivity and break down social barriers. Furthermore, it should be recognized that knowledgeable and informed teachers are crucial in ensuring the effective use of these devices for students with additional needs. Assistive technologies have the ability to change a child’s life and a child should be given that opportunity, regardless of their background, school, teacher or peers.
iVideo Task Rationale By T Gray NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION Reference List Foreman, P. (2008). Inclusion in action. (2nd ed.) South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia NSW Teachers Federation. (2010). Special education: funding does not match growth. Retrieved February 20th 2011, from NSW Teachers Federation: http://www.nswtf.org.au/edu_online/136/specedn.html Wheaton Shorr, P. (2005). The future is now. Threshold, winter 2005. 26-‐30 (inclusive). Retrieved February 20th, 2011, from EBSCOhost. University of Buffalo, (2005). Assistive technology training online. Retrieved 22nd February, 2011 from University of Buffalo: School of Public Health and Health Professionals: http://atto.buffalo.edu/registered/ATBasics.php Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (2010). Facts list: Deafness and Blindness. Retrieved February 22nd, 2011 from Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children: http://www.ridbc.org.au/resources/facts_list.asp#blindness Sailers, E. (2010). iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch Apps for (Special) Education. Retrieved February 22nd, 2011 from Austism Behavioural Intervention Queensland: http://www.abiq.org/autism_apps/iPhone_iPad_iPod-‐touch_Apps_AUS.pdf Roblyer, M.D (2004). Integrating educational technology into teaching. (3rd ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
iVideo Task Rationale By T Gray NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION Smith, D. W., Kelley, P., Maushak, N. J., Griffin-‐Shirley, N., & Lan, W. Y. (2009). Assistive Technology Competencies for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 103(8), 457-‐469. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Shields, K. (2007). Rippling pond: Whatis? What is it?. Retrieved February 24th, 2011 from Rippling Pond Edu Blogs: http://ripplingpond.edublogs.org/2007/01/21/whatis-‐what-‐is-‐it/ Söderström, Sylvia and Ytterhus, Borgunn. (2010). The use and non-‐use of assistive technologies from the world of information and communication technology by visually impaired young people: a walk on the tightrope of peer inclusion. Disability & Society, 25: 3, 303 — 315. Retrieved from EBSCOHost.