Through the reading of a couple articles in the ISTE website journal Learning and Leading with Technology I have learned a great deal about the use Assistive Technology for students with disabilities. Assistive Technology (AT) is defined by Congress in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Section 602-1 (1990) as “any item, piece of equipment or product, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities (9/10 2013, p.10) There are a range of AT options that help students read, write, organize ideas, and communicate that allow them to better meet and even master the Common Core State Standards and ISTE’s standards that before seemed difficult or impossible.
For students who struggle with writing voice diction apps and voice recognition technology allows them to use their computers, tablets, and even smart phones take notes, write papers, send emails, and even submit assignments directly to the teacher. The student can simply talk to their device and have their words put to paper overcoming the basic struggles of writing and typing.
Gayl Bowser, an independent consultant who focuses on the integration of technology into the educational programs for students with disabilities, believes that now is an important time to focus on implementing AT in school across America. Bowser states that students with disabilities and those who struggle in school would be able to meet the Common Core State Standards if they had access to technology to help them demonstrate what they know. Many students feel frustrated because of their restrictions, however if these barriers were lifted, these students would excel in areas they formerly found difficult.
In the article I Have Something to Stay by Marla Runyan, communication disorder specialist, the new app Proloquo2Go (P2G) is described. This AT app produced by Assistive-Ware allows students with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, developmental disabilities, and apraxia of speech to speak through their technology. Students can either type sentences or choose from a variety of pictures to form sentences allowing them to verbally communicate with others. Personally, I think that this type of AT is the most interesting. Before this app and others like it, students who were not able to speak were often shut off from the rest of the world. However with this app, not only can they communicate with other students, teachers, and peers, they can succeed better in school and the real world. In Runyan’s article, she gives an example of one sixth grade boy who is motivated to talk but can only speak a couple words. After using P2G for the first time, the boy enthusiastically went around his classrooms asking his teachers and peers which football team they were cheering for in the upcoming big game. This shows that students cannot only function better within the academic world, but can also thrive in their personal life as well.
Having access to apps like Proloquo2Go allows students to have a completely new learning and education experience. Students will be able to ask questions, participate in class, and have discussions with other students about in class topics. These type of apps will also help students with disabilities communicate with students who do not have disabilities making them feel more part of the student bodies unlike before where they were for the most part separated. By becoming more informed on these apps through our teacher preparation courses, we as future teachers will be able to work better with this technology and disabled students to succeed in school.
Bowser, Gayl. (2013). Assistive Technology in the Digital Age. Learning and Leading in Technology, September/October, page 10. http://www.learningandleading-digital.com/learning_leading/20130910?pg=12&search_term=assistive%20technology&doc_id=-1&search_term=assistive%20technology#pg12
Runyan, Marla. (2011). ‘I Have Something to Say’ Learning and Leading in Technology, August, page 32. http://www.learningandleading-digital.com/learning_leading/201108?pg=35&search_term=assistive%20technology&doc_id=-1&search_term=assistive%20technology#pg35