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Assistive technology


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Assistive technology

  1. 1. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY<br />Defining Assistive Technology<br />Assistive technology devices are mechanical aids which substitute for or enhance the function of some physical or mental ability that is impaired. Assistive technology can be anything homemade, purchased off the shelf, modified, or commercially available which is used to help an individual perform some task of daily living. The term assistive technology encompasses a broad range of devices from "low tech" (e.g., pencil grips, splints, paper stabilizers) to "high tech" (e.g., computers, voice synthesizers, braille readers). These devices include the entire range of supportive tools and equipment from adapted spoons to wheelchairs and computer systems for environmental control.<br />The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal special education law, provides the following legal definition of an assistive technology device: "any item, piece of equipment, or product system... that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." Under IDEA, assistive technology devices can be used in the educational setting to provide a variety of accommodations or adaptations for people with disabilities.<br /><br />STUDENTS WITH COGNITIVE DIFFICULTIES<br />Limitations relating to cognitive impairments are manifested in a variety of ways.  Whether the cause is an acquired brain injury, developmental delay or a neurological disorder, one or more of the following areas may be affected:<br />Perception: Difficulty understanding speech (receptive aphasia). This condition prevents the person from being able to understand words that are spoken. <br />Expression:  Difficulty producing written and spoken language.<br />Memory:  Short term and long term memory deficits can cause a person to forget specific tasks.  Procedural memory lost can affect a person’s ability to learn new manual tasks such as tying shoes.<br />Processing:  Attention and staying on tasks capacity may be diminished, affecting many aspects of work and daily living activities.  Poor organization and sequencing creates difficulty with spelling, grammar and sentence structure.  Impairments of executive functions – the ability to complete higher level tasks such as time management, organization and judgment may be affected.<br />A variety of new and emerging technologies are available to assist persons with cognitive difficulties to increase their independence, find and maintain employment and succeed in school.  Examples of applications in which devices are used as compensatory aids include:<br />Wireless devices such as PDA’s with verbal prompting <br />Portable devices that provide auditory step-by-step instructions<br />PDA’s that use pictures and audio recordings.<br />Medication reminder devices<br /><br />STUDENTS WITH PHYSICAL DIFFICULTIES<br />Computer Access<br />Computer Technology offers students with physical disabilities expanded opportunities for<br />educational success. Computers also will offer improved opportunities in vocational settings,<br />for communication, and for art, music and leisure activities. Often, the problem<br />solving/decision-making process must determine alternate ways for the student with a<br />physical disability to access the computer technology that is available to all other students.<br />This can be done through specifically designed adaptations to, or features of, either hardware<br />or software. As the whole field of technology expands, some of these adaptations are<br />becoming standard and are being used equally by the non-disabled populations. For<br />example, Touch Screens provide mouse access for people with fine motor difficulties<br />through a simple touch of the screen. These screens are also becoming commonplace in<br />information retrieval systems at tourist booths, book stores and so on. Many commonly<br />used word processing programs have built in accessibility features. When adaptations are<br />required, these may be to the input method, in processing features and/or to output method.<br /><br />STUDENTS WITH SENSORY DIFFICULTIES<br />Sensory Integration<br />What is it?<br />In 1979 Jean Ayres defined sensory integration as “A neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s own body and the environment and makes it possible to use the body effectively with in the environment.” She further purposed an association between deficits in interpreting sensation in the body and environment with impaired behavior and/or academic and motor learning. <br />Delays in communication, behavior, and motor skills are the main reason a child gets referred to a therapist in the school setting. These skills are highly integrated into the child’s day and without successful engagement in those activities there is no learning taking place. <br />A study by Ashburner and colleges (2008) found those children with autism spectrum disorder that had difficulty processing verbal instruction in noisy environments, displayed sensory seeking behavior were more likely to underachieve academically. <br />Dr. Ayres proposes that learning is dependent on the ability to take in, process, and integrate sensation from one’s environment, and use that information to plan and organize behavior and movement patterns for performing every day activities (Ayres, 1972). <br />Therefore, our goal as therapists’ is to facilitate and create the most optimal learning environment necessary for that child to learn. This includes altering or adapting the external environment as well as an individual’s internal environment. <br />One way this is done is by altering a child’s arousal level to fit the environment for which he/she will be interacting with. Arousal is the ability to maintain and transition between different sleep and wake states. Quiet and calm alert state is often associated with prime learning state. <br />However, most children with sensory issues can oscillate or stay in many different arousal patterns, such as: sleepy, calm/alert, hyper focused, distressed, meltdown, shutdown, and more. A persons’ arousal level is dependent upon their ability to register and adapt to sensory input at any given time. <br /><br />AT-RISK STUDENTS<br />WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF AT-RISK STUDENTS? <br />At-risk students are students who are not experiencing success in school and are potential dropouts. They are usually low academic achievers who exhibit low self-esteem. Disproportionate numbers of them are males and minorities. Generally they are from low socioeconomic status families. Students who are both low income and minority status are at higher risk; their parents may have low educational backgrounds and may not have high educational expectations for their children. <br />At-risk students tend not to participate in school activities and have a minimal identification with the school. They have disciplinary and truancy problems that lead to credit problems. They exhibit impulsive behavior and their peer relationships are problematic. Family problems, drug addictions, pregnancies, and other problems prevent them from participating successfully in school. As they experience failure and fall behind their peers, school becomes a negative environment that reinforces their low self-esteem. <br /><br />GIFTED AND TALENTED STUDENTS<br />There are over 3 million students in the United States, which have some form of disability.  This number alone, shows the importance for educators to accommodate these students, by making use of adaptive and/or assistive technologies in the classroom. Studies show, that the best way for these students to learn is to have them mainstreamed into the regular education classrooms. This presents a problem, because most teachers are not formally trained in educating those with disabilities. In the inclusion model, teachers need to do all they can to provide a similar classroom experience for disabled students. These students are often at a disadvantage when included in the classroom, because they obtain and process information in different ways when compared to other students. Providing this extra support can be nearly impossible, because of time constraints and or lack of knowledge. There are many resources available to help teachers provide their included, disabled students assistance in overcoming their handicaps. Below, you will find some more information about the available adaptive and assistive technologies which can help.<br />The information below will be organized by the type of target group.  This information was taken from Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (Roblyer, 4th Edition).  Click the link below to go to each section.<br />Target Groups:<br />Cognitive Disabilities / Physical Disabilities / Sensory Disabilities / At Risk / Gifted and Talented <br />Before you look at the information below, please watch this video so you can better understand why adaptive and assistive technologies are so important.<br /> <br />Students Cognitive Disabilities (mild, moderate and severe)<br />MildIntegration Strategy<br />Reading: Make use of software, text to speech, interactive books and reading skills programs<br />Writing: Make use of available software, voice recognition and word prediction<br />Math:  Make use of available software, graphing, drill and practice, and tutorial<br />Moderate to SevereIntegration Strategy<br />Make use of videos to improve learning, maintaining and transferring functional and community based behaviors<br />Make use of software that promotes functional skills (employability, daily living and money management).<br />Examples of Resources <br />(These resources come from the companion web site for Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (Roblyer, 4th Edition)). <br />WizCom Quicktionary Reading Penhttp://www.wizcomtech.comWizCom Technologies, Ltd., develops personal, portable scanning pens that help people read and use text.<br />Don Johnston's Co:Writer and Write:OutLoudhttp://www.donjohnston.comDon Johnston Incorporated delivers life changing interventions to struggling students<br />DragonTalk's Dragon Naturally Speakinghttp://www.dragontalk.comDragon NaturallySpeaking allows for fast, continuous, large vocabulary speech while still allowing for control in the Windows operating system. <br />Freedom Scientific's WYNNhttp://www.freedomscientific.comFreedom Scientific develops, manufactures, and markets technology-based products and services that those with vision impairments and learning disabilities use to change their world.<br />AbleNethttp://www.ablenetinc.comAbleNet designs practical products and solutions for teaching children with disabilities.<br />Attainment Companyhttp://www.attainmentcompany.comAttainment Company produces materials for special needs.<br />Back to top<br />Students with physical disabilities<br />Integration Strategy<br />Make sure to offer alternatives to using keyboards, mouse and/or monitors<br />Make sure that the adaptive technologies are placed, to ensure ease and independence of use<br />Monitor the use of these tools to make sure the maximum level of participation is occurring without causing too much physical demands<br />Examples of Resources <br />(These resources come from the companion web site for Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (Roblyer, 4th Edition)). <br />AbleNethttp://www.ablenetinc.comAbleNet designs practical products and solutions for teaching children with disabilities.<br />Adaptivationhttp://www.adaptivation.comAdaptivation provides assistive technology products and services to individuals with severe and multiple disabilities.Enabling Deviceshttp://www.enablingdevices.comEnabling Devices provides affordable assistive and learning devices for the physically challenged.<br />Intellitools provides learning solutions for the diverse classroom.<br />ORCCA Technologyhttp://www.orcca.comORCCA Technology provides a variety of assistive technology products.<br />Back to top<br />Students with sensory disabilities<br />Students who are blind (complete loss of vision)<br />Integration Strategy<br />Make use of sensor technologies and canes to help ease movement<br />Make use of text-to-Braille converters <br />Make use of screen readers<br />Students who are visually impaired (partial loss of vision)<br />Integration Strategy<br />Make use of closed circuit television (CCTV) magnifiers<br />Make use of screen magnification controls built in to monitors<br />Students who are hearing impaired<br />Integration Strategy<br />Make use of an assistive learning device such as an FM amplification system<br />Examples of Resources <br />(These resources come from the companion web site for Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (Roblyer, 4th Edition)). <br />Alva Access Grouphttp://www.aagi.comALVA Access Group provides high-tech solutions that enable blind and visually-impaired people to use computers and communication systems.<br />Dolphin Computer Accesshttp://www.dolphinusa.comDolphin Computer Access creates software products that allow visually impaired people to use mainstream information technology in its original form.<br />TeleSensoryhttp://www.telesensory.comTelesensory helps visually impaired and blind people achieve greater independence through innovative, technology-based products.<br />AudioEnhancementhttp://www.audioenhancement.comAudio Enhancement creates audio enhanced classrooms by equipping them with amplification systems.<br />Jaws Screen Reader JAWS screen reader works with a PC to provide access to today's software applications and the Internet.<br />ReadPleasehttp://www.readplease.comReadPlease is the developer of text-to-speech software for Windows based operating systems. <br />Back to top<br />At-risk students<br />Integration Strategy<br />Locate software programs and or web sites which give students a chance to engage in learning activities that are powerful and motivating<br />Make use of instructional materials which provide immediate feedback on performance such as drill and practice software and electronic quizzes <br /> Examples of Resources <br />(These resources come from the companion web site for Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (Roblyer, 4th Edition)). <br />BrainPophttp://www.brainpop.comBrainPOP produces educational animated movies for grades K-12 to explain concepts in a voice and visual style that is accessible and entertaining.<br />Tom Snyderhttp://www.tomsnyder.comTom Snyder Productions, a Scholastic company, is a developer and publisher of educational software for K-12 classrooms.<br />Don Johnston's Cohttp://www.donjohnston.comDon Johnston Incorporated delivers life changing interventions to struggling students <br />Back to top<br />Gifted and talented students<br />Integration Strategy<br />Make use of the Internet to find web sites as a starting point into content which provide appropriate challenges<br />Make available self-guided research tools<br />Make available tools such as multimedia presentations, web page design and electronic portfolios for documenting learning experiences  <br />Examples of Resources <br />(These resources come from the companion web site for Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (Roblyer, 4th Edition)). <br />Duke TIP programhttp://www.tip.duke.eduThe Duke University Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP) identifies gifted children and provides resources to nurture the development of these exceptionally bright youngsters.<br />Hoagie's Gifted Education pagehttp://www.hoagiesgifted.orgHoagies' Gifted Education Page offers resources and links for parents, for educators, counselors, administrators and other professionals, and for kids and teens.<br />Project Posterhttp://poster.4teachers.orgProject Poster is for students who wish to publish projects or reports on the public internet.<br />Back to top<br />Other information <br />All computer operating systems include a number of accessibility options to help, for more information about these, click on the link for your operating system.Windows Apple Linux GNOME <br />Useful Resources<br />(Resources below come from the companion web site for Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (Roblyer, 4th Edition)). <br />No Child Left Behind: Implications for Assistive Technology article describes the relationship between the No Child Left Behind Act and the provision for assistive technology for students with special needs.<br />Center for Accessing the General Education Curriculum a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Programs, CAST established the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC) to provide a vision of how new curricula, teaching practices, and policies can be woven together to create practical approaches for improved access to the general curriculum by students with disabilities.<br />Assistive Technology Training Onlinehttp://atto.buffalo.eduThe Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO) provides information on AT applications that help students with disabilities learn in elementary classrooms. <br />Relative advantage<br />Teaching with technology has many advantages over traditional teaching strategies. Technology can bridge, language barriers, cultural differences, and distances. Technology can help the teacher meet the needs of a diverse student population by decreasing gaps in achievement for at risk and special needs students  and by improving student  attention, interest, and motivation .<br />