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Assistive Technology is changing the learning environment for children with physical and mental challenges. My question is, shouldn’t technology be assistive for all learners? I have a dream that soon every student will have access to the assistive technology they need to reach their potential.
In the meantime, some of the lessons learned from using assistive technology with students with disabilities, can and should be applied to the use of technology with all children. Coleman presents possible solutions for the successful implementation of assistive technology.
“It is imperative that teachers of students with physical disabilities are knowledgeable about AT and how to implement AT in a way that best meets the needs of their students.” Again, I see this as important for all students and all technologies. Coleman goes on to say, “Research shows that there is a high rate of abandonment and under use of assistive technology devices,” especially when teacher knowledge is limited. This has been a traditional problem with implementation of any technology.
As well, matching the technology to student need is critical. “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). Coleman cites other researchers, stating “environmental factors, such as lack of accessibility and teachers’ attitudes factored in to whether students did or did not use their AT devices. “ Involving teachers in selection of technology and giving them time for training is a key factor. The good thing is, with technology to assist them, teachers have many options for their own learning.
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://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ955444.pdf