Week 8: A New Appreciation for Assistive Technologies

Assistive technology (AT) can be a lifeline for disabled students, for it is redefining what people with cognitive and physical disabilities can accomplish (Kelker & Holt, 1997).  Assistive technology can be used to aid students in many ways by helping them overcome barriers, but these technologies can be expensive and difficult to obtain.  Many parents are confused by the variety of software available, and they need help finding the right tool so that (AT) becomes an essential but fluid part of their child’s education rather than an additional part (Kelker & Holt, 1997).

I have a new awareness and appreciation for assistive technology.  I have developed extreme Carpal Tunnel Syndrome this month due to pregnancy; this has made typing almost impossible.  I have relied on assistive technology to complete my assignments for this program.  I have ordered Dragon Dictation, which has definitely helped, but I am also finding that I need time to adapt to the technology.  As Ellis indicates in the Assistive technology: Enabling Dreams video, students need to learn AT tools at younger ages so later they can focus on content rather than on technology (Ellis, 2009).  It is important for parents and educators to realize that navigating new software takes patience and time.  The process can be extremely frustrating.

I have also used wrist splints and compression gloves for arthritis to help me function.  These aids are also categorized as assistive technologies, so AT doesn’t consists of only computer software (Coleman, 2011).  It can be assistive listening, visual aids, enhanced mobility aids, computer-based instruction, social interaction and recreation and self care.  “Assistive technology means any device which helps an individual with an impairment to perform tasks of daily living” (Kelker & Holt, p. 6, 1997).

Assistive technology is changing the way teachers instruct students with disabilities because AT is “…not just a civil right guaranteed by law; it is also a means of achieving human rights to grow up happy, independent and self-sufficient as possible” (Kelker & Holt, p. 43, 1997).   AT definitely offers something different for each of us.

References:

Coleman, M.  (2011).  Successful Implementation of Assistive Technology to Promote Access to Curriculum and Instruction for Students with Physical Disabilities.  Physical Disabilities:  Education And Related Services, 30(2), 2-22.  Retrieved from:  http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ955444&site=ehost-live

Ellis, K. (2009). Assistive Technology Enabling Dreams. Edutopia Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ5CkpgVQJ4

Kelker, K. & Holt, R. (1997).  Family Guide to Assistive Technology. Retrieved from: http://www.pluk.org/Pubs/PLUK_ATguide_269K.pdf

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Week 8: A New Appreciation for Assistive Technologies

  1. Marilyn,
    Your post was very interesting to me as you are “living” with assistive technology! I hope you can recover quickly. You made a couple of comments that resonated with me. “I am also finding that I need time to adapt to the technology.” You also say, “It is important for parents and educators to realize that navigating new software takes patience and time. The process can be extremely frustrating.”
    Should we be adapting to technology? Or should the technology be adapted to our needs? I am wondering if navigating new software takes so much patience and time if it is really the software we need?
    As Coleman states, “One reason that AT devices are underused or abandoned is the lack of fit between the AT user and the features of the device” (2011).
    Perhaps there is not an assistive technology available for you at this time that truly fits your needs.
    My hope is that one day assistive technology will flow seamlessly into our lives, as needed, with our biggest decision being, what technology to select.

    Coleman, M. (2011). Successful implementation of assistive technology to promote access to curriculum and instruction for students with physical disabilities. Physical Disabilities: Education And Related Services, 30(2), 2-22. Retrieved from: http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ955444&site=ehost-live

    • marilyngould says:

      Hi Sandra, thanks for your kind thoughts. It hasn’t been fun-especially with weekly assignments due. I now have a deeper appreciation for people in chronic pain. I am still finding the time it takes to adapt to new technology frustrating, so I agree with your comments that technology needs to be better suited to users’ needs. I didn’t have many choices, so I needed to adapt. Hopefully, in the future, people will have more options available to them.

      Marilyn

  2. caroleware says:

    Great post Marilyn.. and Congratulations!

    My teaching partner and I were having a meeting with our admin this week about a student who needs greater amounts of support. One of his biggest challenges is writing. He is unable to read what he has written (as are we) and he is now spending time just writing letters that mean nothing as a means to “completing” his assignments. Verbally, he is strong and can explain his thinking fairly clearly. As we brainstormed about this student, we tried to come up with something to assist him until we can get him assessed and pinpoint how to best accommodate his learning. Our brainstorming included dragon naturally speaking, using the verbal “notes” app on an iphone, etc.

    Part of the difficulty now comes that none of us are experts in this ‘AT’ field and how do we know what might work best? Will there be time for teacher, student and family training or will we begin a trial and error system to see? As Coleman states, “One reason that AT devices are underused or abandoned is the lack of fit between the AT user and the features of the device” (2011, pg. 5). Also that, “approximately one third of AT devices are abandoned within the first year because the assessment process was not thorough enough to ensure that the device purchased would match the needs of the user” (Coleman, 2011, pg.5). We are not even at a state of being ready or able to purchase a device, but trying to figure out what device we currently have in the school might work. The need for experts in the field to come in and assist schools with setting students up for success with AT is critical. With the state of funding of education these days, will these specialists get lost in the budget cuts? Who will support our teachers and students then?

    References:

    Coleman, M. (2011). Successful Implementation of Assistive Technology to Promote Access to Curriculum and Instruction for Students with Physical Disabilities. Physical Disabilities: Education And Related Services, 30(2), 2-22. Retrieved from: http://ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ955444&site=ehost-live

  3. marilyngould says:

    Hi Carole,
    Thanks for your kindness and feedback. Unfortunately, I agree that with the current budget cuts AT specialists will probably be the first to go. It seems that this is the trend! Education is always one of the first professions to experience cut backs. Teachers will need to supplement their own learning to improve learning outcomes in their classrooms.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s