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    • 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.