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.
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