Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blog Post #12

What assistive technologies are available to you as a teacher? That is a great question, and one that deserves a bit more attention then a single blog post can give. However, the first step to this is to understand what assistive technologies are. So, what are they? According to that Assistive Technology Industry Association, ATiA, Assistive technology is "any item, piece of equipment, software or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities". They are quick to let us know that assistive technologies can be anything from low tech communication boards made of fuzzy felt to specialized curricular software. They state that making the decision on what assistive technologies you use is not a decision made by yourself, but rather with a team of professionals and consultants. One of the things we can not let get in our way as teachers is the idea that we know everything. By doing that we could end up making a wrong decision that does not help the student, but could also hinder or hurt them in future education. So what is available for us to use as teachers? The fuzzy felt communication boards sound awesome, but not practical. The more practical tools are things like iPads and Tablet PCs. With programs that can read out event he names of the apps on the devices, it is getting to the point where technology will no longer be an issue for the deaf or the blind. However, it is still a struggle. In the video Teaching Mom What Her Deaf/Blind Child Is Learning On the iPad, we see that a mother is learning how to use an iPad in the way that her child would be using it. Despite being hilarious, it is a very informative video and shows the difficulties not only in operating the device, but also the difficulties in using the device in the ways necessary for some one with disabilities. In the video Teaching Math to the Blind we get to see how these assistive technologies are being used, and how they are making a difference to the students in the class room. It's scary to think of, but we may have to deal with students who need assistive technologies. While it is not our job to understand in full detail how they work, it is our job to be knowledgeable about them and how to incorporate them into our teaching.

A man using assistive technologies to use an iPad

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