Monday, April 14, 2014

The End of Our Journey

Throughout this semester we have completed four modules that have discussed various ways to implement assistive technology into our classroom learning environments, as well as our students homes and communities.  During this time, I have learned many new forms of assistive technology, as well as ways to implement them into my future classroom.  For example, I never really knew that an iPad could be used for so many things, other than playing games and communicating with peers.  I have learned about many applications that can be downloaded for free, or for purchase, that can assist students with disabilities in a variety of ways; picture schedules, educational games and activities, communication boards, text-to-speech, and many more! I learned many of these new applications through the YouTube video we watched during the second module:

I hope to take many of the new things I learned throughout this course and present them to my future students.  Using technology in the classroom is not only exciting for the students, but also for the teacher,as you are using a variety of means to meet the needs of each of your learners.  


Visual Supports for Students with Severe Disabilities

As we have learned, there are many iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch applications that can assist students with mild, moderate, and even severe disabilities.  Many students, especially those with cognitive disabilities, autism, and/or multiple disabilities, have difficulty with personal organization and self-management.  Applications that can be downloaded onto an iPhone or iPad can assist students with these skills.

Visual supports, such as picture schedules, can assist students with understanding what is expected from them and what they will be seeing or participating in throughout the day.   These applications can be used both in the classroom learning environment, as well as in their home and in their community.  When picture schedules are used over time, students begin to build independent skills in the areas of self-care and vocational tasks.

Many picture schedules, such as the iPrompt application, assist students with not only giving them visuals of what their day will look like, but also provides them with options to make choices during meals and snacks, as well as a countdown timer.

Reasonable Accommodations for College Students

Once out of high school, students may continue to need their assistive technology devices in college.  "Under Section 504 and the ADA, colleges must provide--at no cost to the student--reasonable accommodations to make their programs accessible to students with disabilities" (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).  The following accommodations should be provided for students throughout their time at a college or university.

Typical Non-technology Accommodations
Technology-Based Accommodations
Note taking
Student note takers using carbonless paper
Use of a portable note taker Smart pen to record lectures and sync to notes

Whiteboard capturing devices
Understanding lectures
Sign language interpreters
C-print captioning

Assistive listening system
Taking tests
Extended time on tests

Distraction free environment for testing
Word processing application for essay exams

Use of spell-check feature or handheld speller

Use of calculator

Text-to-speech software for reading support
Accessing course materials
Sign-language interpreted videos

Arranging for materials to be translated into Braille
Captioned videos

Providing handouts in electronic format

Making course web sites accessible
Providing readers
Books in alternate formats

Scan/read systems with highlighting and text-to speech
Text readers, Audio books, Video magnifiers
Completing papers and assignments

Screen magnification applications

Screen-reading applications

Text-to-speech and word prediction

Voice recognition

Graphic organizer
Accessing the Internet

Providing screen magnification, screen reading, or text to speech applications
Registering for Classes
Priority registration
Making college web based systems accessible

Providing telecommunications device for the deaf

E-mail, text messaging, instant messaging

Video relay system


Dell, A.G., Newton, D.A., Petroff, J.G. (2012).  Assistive Technology in the Classroom; Enhancing the School Experiences of Students with Disabilities.  2nd Edition. 

Oregon Technology Access Program

"The Oregon Technology Access Program (OTAP) provides training, information, technical assistance and resources regarding the uses of technology for children with disabilities" (OTAP, 2014).  These services are available and can be provided to any child, from birth to the age of twenty-one, with a disability living within the state of Oregon.

The OTAP website provides individuals with any information they may need regarding assistance or services. Providing readers with workshop information, publications and documents regarding services provided within the state and state laws, assistive technology links, and web classes, allows individuals residing in Oregon to gain the proper information they need in order to receive services for their child/children, loved ones, or themselves.

Texas Assistive Technology Network

The Texas Assistive Technology Network has created a module to assist individuals who are or will be involved in the assistive technology decision making process and/or implementation.  Individuals who participate in the module, primarily individuals working with students who use or need assistive technology, will learn about the purposes and results of assistive technology implementation, the big ideas and planning in assistive technology implementation, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of the assistive technology being implemented.  The information found on this website can assist the IEP team in making decisions on what assistive technology will meet the needs of the student they are working with and how this technology can enhance the educational activities they will be participating in.  

Assistive technology has the ability to assist students with disabilities; both in and out of the classroom learning environment.  When teachers and parents gain valuable information and understand how to use the technology and why they are using it, they will be able to assist the student throughout daily routines and activities.  The Texas Assistive Technology Network gives teachers and parents the information they need in order to meet the specific learning needs of each student.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Designing Augmentative Communication Systems to Meet Communication Demands

As teachers, it is important to design specific augmentative communication systems that help meet the demands of our students in all learning environments; school, home, and the community.  In order to do this, the teacher must provide learners with a communication board that has specific vocabulary words for each setting and any activities that may be involved within that setting.  "Teachers are encouraged to copy the board, laminate them, and use them in context" (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).  The more students are provided the opportunity to use their boards, the more practice they will have with building communication skills; this is great for students who are learning to use their boards in other facilities outside of their learning environment (home and community).

Some communication boards are used to help students express their wants, needs, and feelings.  This type of board can be used at school, at home, and within the community.  

Communication boards can be used for specific activities, such as art or cooking.  The above board helps a student express what they want or need to complete an art activity.


Dell, A.G., Newton, D.A., Petroff, J.G. (2012).  Assistive Technology in the Classroom; Enhancing the School Experiences of Students with Disabilities.  2nd Edition.  

Supporting Augmentative Communication Systems at Home & in the Community

Although students primarily use their augmentative communication devices in school, they must also learn how to use them at home and within their community.  This not only reinforces the communication skills that are learned in school, but helps students generalize them in other settings (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).  In order to help students use their communication devices outside of the learning environment, the teacher must build family involvement and must help with carrying over what is taught in the classroom and how it can be used in the home and the community.  Providing parents and family members with appropriate training's will help them support their child outside of the learning environment.

It might seem simple to increase the use of  augmentative communication at home, however, when it comes to expanding the device into the community, it becomes more difficult.  The community is a large environment that may include individuals who are not familiar with augmentative communication devices.  For this reason, it is important that the teacher not only informs family members, but also make the community knowledgeable by taking students on field trips.  By using augmentative communication devices in public areas, community members will become more aware of how they work and how to interact with those individuals who use them.  The student will not only be able to reinforce what they are learning in the classroom environment, but will also learn ways to communicate while in public areas such as the grocery store.


Dell, A.G., Newton, D.A., Petroff, J.G. (2012).  Assistive Technology in the Classroom; Enhancing the School Experiences of Students with Disabilities.  2nd Edition.