Equal Learning Opportunitiesfor all StudentsAssistive Technology for Students with Disabilities Atawanna L. Royal
• Integrating technology into classroom instruction means more than teaching basic computer skills and software programs in a separate computer class. Effective integration of technology must happen across the curriculum in order to truly enhance the learning process.• For some students, the integration of technology is needed to induce the learning process.Integrating Technology inthe Classrooms
• As educating institutions, there is a responsibility to insure that all students are treated equal and fair and provided necessary services and resources to afford them the opportunity to attain an education. The use of technology is vital in assisting institutions of education with this task.• Inclusion is a term which expresses commitment to educate each child, to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. It involves bringing the support services to the child (rather than moving the child to the services) and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class (rather than having to keep up with the other students). Inclusion
• Federal special education laws mandate that students are taught in a “least restrictive environment”.• Least restrictive environment means that a student who has a disability should have the opportunity to be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent appropriate.Least Restrictive Environment
• Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that a recipient of federal funds provide for the education of each qualified handicapped person in its jurisdiction with persons who are not handicapped to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the handicapped person.• The Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (Tech Act) was designed to enhance the availability and quality of assistive technology (AT) devices and services to all individuals and their families throughout the United States.• The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended in 2004, requires that children with disabilities be educated in the "least restrictive environment appropriate” to meet their “unique needs.” It’s the LAW
"As the global community continues the transition from an industrialized factory model to aninformation and now participatory networked-based society, educational technology will play a pivotal role in preparing students for their futures.”Technology andEducation
• The Tech Act defines assistive technology (AT) devices as any item, piece of equipment, or product system (whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized) that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Assistive Technology
In a paper presented at the annual meeting of The Council for Exceptional Children held in Denver, CO. in 1994, Lahm & Morrissette outlined seven areas of instruction where AT could assist students with mild disabilities:• organization• note taking• writing assistance• productivity• access to reference materials• cognitive assistance• materials modification.
• Organization: Low-tech solutions include teaching students to organize their thoughts or work using flow charting, task analysis, webbing or networking ideas, and outlining. These strategies can be accomplished using graphic organizers to visually assist students in developing and structuring ideas. A high-tech solution might be the outline function of word processing software, which lets students set out major ideas or topics and then add subcategories of information.• Note Taking: A simple approach is for the teacher to provide copies of structured outlines for students to use in filling in information. A high-tech approach might include optical character recognition, which is software that can transform typewritten material into computer-readable text using a scanner.• Writing Assistance: Word processing may be the most important application of assistive technology for students with mild disabilities. Many of these students have been identified as needing assistance in the language arts, specifically in writing. Computers and word processing software enable students to put ideas on paper without the barriers imposed by paper and pencil. Writing barriers for students with mild disabilities include mechanics: spelling, grammar and punctuation errors; process: generating ideas, organizing, drafting, editing, and revising; and motivation: clarity and neatness of final copy, reading ability, and interest in writing.
• Productivity: Assistive productivity tools can be hardware-based, software-based, or both. Calculators, for example, can be the credit-card type or software based, which can be popped up and used during word processing. Spreadsheets, databases, and graphics software also offer productivity tools, enabling students to work on math or other subjects that may require calculating, categorizing, grouping, and predicting events. Productivity tools also can be found in small, portable devices called personal digital assistants (PDAs). Newer PDAs can be used as note taking devices via a small keyboard or graphics-based pen input. Some PDAs can translate words printed with the pen input device to computer-readable text, which can then be edited with the word processor and transmitted to a full function computer.• Access to Reference Materials: Many students with mild disabilities have difficulty gathering and synthesizing information for their academic work. In this arena, telecommunications and multimedia are providing new learning tools for the students.• Cognitive Assistance: A vast array of application program software is available for instructing students through tutorials, drill and practice, problem-solving, and simulations. Many of the assistive technologies described previously can be combined with instructional programs to develop and improve cognitive and problem-solving skills.• Materials Modification: Special educators are familiar with the need to create instructional materials or customize materials to meet the varied needs of students with disabilities. Today there are powerful multimedia authoring and presentation tools that educators can use to develop and modify computer-based instructional materials for students with mild disabilities, providing a learning tool that these students can access and use to balance their weak areas of learning with their strong areas.
A child who has difficulty learning and functioning and has been identified asa special needs student-a student with delayed skills or other disabilities- mightbe eligible for special services provided to assist them with their educationattainment.Here is a list of some reasons a student may be classified as special needs:• learning disabilities• attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)• emotional disorders• cognitive challenges• autism• hearing impairment• visual impairment• speech or language impairment• developmental delay Special Needs Students
Students with specific learning disabilities have average toabove average intelligence but may have difficulties acquiringand demonstrating knowledge and understanding. This results ina lack of achievement for age and ability level, and a severediscrepancy between achievement and intellectual abilities. Learning Disabilities
Specific types of learning disabilities include:• Dysgraphia An individual with dysgraphia has a difficult time with the physical task of forming letters and words using a pen and paper and has difficulty producing legible handwriting .• Dyscalculia A person with Dyscalculia has difficulty understanding and using math concepts and symbols.• Dyslexia An individual with dyslexia may mix up letters within words and sentences while reading. He may have difficulty spelling words correctly while writing. Letter reversals are common. Some individuals with dyslexia have a difficult time with navigating and route finding tasks as they are easily confused by directions and spatial information such as left and right.• Dyspraxia A person with dyspraxia may mix up words and sentences while talking. There is often a discrepancy between language comprehension and language production.• Non-verbal Learning Disorder Poor motor coordination, visual-spatial organization and/or a lack of social skills may characterize non-verbal learning disorders.• Auditory Processing Disorder A person with an auditory processing disorder intermittently experiences an inability to process verbal information.
Examples of accommodations and assistive technology for studentswho have learning disabilities include:• Audiotaped or videotaped class sessions.• Books on tape.• Alternative evaluation methods (e.g., portfolio, oral or video presentations).• Providing projects or detailed instructions on audiotapes or print copies.• Computers equipped with speech output, which highlights and reads (via screen reading software and a speech synthesizer) text on the computer screen.• Word processing software that includes electronic spelling and grammar checkers, software with highlighting capabilities, and word prediction software.• Software to enlarge screen images.Learning Disabilities
• ADHD is a common behavioral disorder that affects an estimated 8% to 10% of school-age children.• Kids with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand whats expected of them but have trouble following through because they cant sit still, pay attention, or attend to details.ADHD
Studies show that AT can improve certain skill deficits and increase self-reliance. Children who struggle in school are often overly dependent on parents, siblings, friends, and teachers for help with assignments. By using AT, ADHD students can achieve success by working independently. ADDitude, http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/6585.html, is a great internet source that provides information on software and gadgets for students with ADHD.ADHD
• More than one million children in the United States have some form of hearing loss. It is imperative for educators to understand what a hearing loss is and how to make necessary adaptations within the classroom to allow the hearing impaired child to flourish.• Once educators fully understand the impacts of technology on the hearing impaired child they will be able to make their classroom more accessible for all students.• http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/wp/access/hearing.html is the link to “An Educator’s Guide to Hearing Disability Issues” which is a great resource to assist educators with identifying the different types of hearing disabilities and the assistive technology needed to address the disabilities.Hearing Impairment
There are tons of online resources available to assist educators with informationregarding assistive technology and accommodations for students with disabilities.Here is a list of a few:• EASI Equal Access to Software and Informationhttp://people.rit.edu/easi/• ATSTARhttp://www.atstar.org/?gclid=CPjFsc-Mrq4CFbMAQAod-WFQTw• Exceptional Children Resources at Internet 4 Classroomshttp://www.internet4classrooms.com/assistive_tech.htm• The National Website for Assistive Technologyhttp://assistivetech.net/• TeacherVisionhttp://www.teachervision.fen.com/assistive-technology/teaching-methods/3791.html#ixzz1myzYr8N1• EnableMarthttp://www.enablemart.com/ Resources
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assistive_technology• http://www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty/Strategies/Disability/LD/• http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/wp/access/hearing.html• Lahm, E., & Morrissette, S. (1994, April). Zap em with assistive technology. Paper presented at the annual meeting of The Council for Exceptional Children, Denver, CO.• http://standards.gov/assistivetechnology.cfmReferences