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.

Augmentative Communication Integration

All students with disabilities have Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that helps guide them through the process of meeting their goals.  Creating an IEP can be a very difficult task, however it is an important aspect for students with special needs.  One important component of the program development process is the evaluation of augmentative communication; this must be carefully considered for all nonspeaking students (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).

In order to evaluate and integrate augmentative communication into a students IEP, the teacher needs to take into consideration how the student will be using the device/system throughout the day, in both instructional and non-instructional class periods (2012).  "The IEP must include clear statements reflecting the student's communication needs across environments and descriptions of how the specific features of the system will be used by the student" (Dell, Newotn, Petroff, 2012).  Teachers can also integrate a students augmentative communication into their IEP by creating a list of augmentative communication services that will be provided by related service personnel such as a speech/language pathologist or an occupational therapy, as well as providing information on the individuals who are responsible for maintenance and operations of the device.

Below is an example of an augmentative communication board.


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. 

Strategies for Overcoming "Learned Helplessness"

Learned helplessness, or a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, can give students difficulty within the learning environment; especially when it comes to being successful with completing activities on their own.For this reason, it is important that teachers recognize that students have their own voice and give them the opportunity to be powerful by using it (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).

According to Dell, Newton, and Petroff, there are five ways in which an individual can overcome learned helplessness (2012).  They include the following:
  • "Build a daily expectation of communication through specific activities such as choosing the activity during recess, picking a book to read, or identifying where to eat lunch. 
  • Construct a brief daily report to parents that is communicated by the student. 
  • Allow natural consequences to occur and provide avenues for repair.  This includes setups that alter the environment to provide less support or sabotage. 
  • Provide for choice making whenever possible that requires the student to use his or her augmentative communication system. 
  • Provide powerful phrases on the device for students to reject or protest something" (2012).  

I think these tips are great and can help many professionals have a better understanding of how to help their students become more independent, rather than always depending on a peer or an adult for assistance.  


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.  

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is a great website that gives students the opportunity to learn through the use of using manipulatives, such as counting blocks, on a computer, iPad, or SmartBoard. Students of all ages and learners of all levels have access to this website and are able to use the materials easily.  A website, such as this one, can be integrated into a learning environment through the use of iPads or a SmartBoard and can be used individually, in small groups, or even for whole group instruction.  I feel as though the more students interact with manipulatives and are able to see first hand how math concepts emerge, the better understanding of the material they will have.

Base Blocks
Learners in grades Kindergarten through twelfth can use base blocks for a variety of math concepts.  This manipulative can be used in the early grades for learning basic concepts of addition and subtraction, while older students can use base blocks for counting numbers in a variety of bases (thousands, hundreds, tens, ones).  While exploring The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, it showed how students can use base blocks for learning a variety of concepts just by dragging or clicking on the blocks they need.  They are then able to use the base blocks to add, subtract, or count to large numbers.

Using virtual base blocks to learn addition and subtraction. 

Using virtual base blocks to count number bases; thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones.

Mrs. Glosser's Math Goodies

There are many educational applications and apps for the iPad that assist students with learning basic math concepts.  One of the great applications includes, Mrs. Glosser's Math Goodies; a math website that provides math assistance for students, teachers, and parents by providing games, worksheets, homework help, and tutorials for specific math areas.  Below is a review of the the Math Goodies website,,  and ways in which this educational application can help you!

Mrs. Glosser’s Math Goodies
Summary: Math Goodies is a wonderful website and tool for helping students in learning mathematical concepts.  The website offers assistance for students on all math levels, as well as tutorials and planning for both teachers and parents. 
Goals: The goals of this website are to assist learners with understanding mathematical concepts by offering a variety of tools and learning techniques. 
·         Friendly & Easy to use
·         Offers a wide range of opportunities for learning (tutorials, lesson planning, homework assistance, puzzles, games)
·         Links to purchase the full curriculum; can be downloaded onto laptop/desktop computer
·         Parents and teachers can create worksheets to meet the specific needs of learners
·         Offers learning through WebQuests
·         Students with learning disabilities (visually impaired, poor fine motor skills) may have difficulty accessing website and/or using materials that are provided.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Low-Tech and Mid-Tech Adaptions

Many assistive technology devices, both low-tech and mid-tech, have been created to assist learners with disabilities in completing their math work.  These devices or items can include, but are definitely not limited to, rubber stamps, number lines, laminated addition and multiplication tables, and special rulers that can be used as transparent overlays in order to assist students with understanding the relationships between units of measurement (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).  Additional technologies that students with poor fine motor control, learning disabilities, and visual impairments can benefit from include large calculators with over-sized buttons, talking calculators that read aloud the buttons that are stroked,  and "See N' Solve" calculators that show students an entire math problem on the screen.
See N' Solve Calculator 


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. 

Applications for Math Concepts, Skills, and Problem Solving

Along with educational applications that teach math fluency, there are also applications that assist students with learning math concepts, skills, and problem solving.  Many of these educational applications can be accessed through websites and will benefit learners in grades kindergarten through twelfth.  For example, the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is a great website for students in all grade levels and assists  them in learning various math concepts and builds onto already learned skills.  Below is a quick tutorial on how to access and use the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives website. 

To go along with this website, there are a number of others, including the following:
  • The Virtual Laboratories in Probability and Statistics: A virtual website that will support learners studying advanced probability and statistics. 
  • Math Playground: Free online activities that assist students in learning math concepts, skills and problem solving through the use of games, word problems, logic puzzles and thinking blocks.  
  • Conceptua Math: This website focuses on fractions and provides teachers with various learning tools that will help them enhance whole group instruction. 
  • Destination Math: Provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Learning Technology, this website primarily targets the development of skills in the following areas; math reasoning, conceptual understanding, and problem solving.  

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. 

Visual-Spatial and Motor Control Difficulties

Students with disabilities, especially those with visual-spatial or motor control difficulties, may often experience trouble with writing numbers, creating visual representation, and aligning digits in computation problems (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).  For students who have difficulties with visual-spatial and motor control, specific educational applications such as MathPad and/or MathPad Plus can assist them by minimizing handwriting.

 MathPad is a math program that consists of talking worksheets and allows students to perform mathematical computations using a computer, rather than paper and pencil.  This program has many features that can benefit all types of learners; customizable speech output for students who are visually impaired, use of a keyboard or mouse for students with poor fine motor skills, and scanning features to assist those students with severe disabilities.  

"MathPad Plus extends all of the features of MathPad to arithmetic computations with fractions and decimals" (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).  This program has several additional features that are available to assist students in their learning, as well as giving students the options to view problems in a variety of forms; pie charts, fraction bars, decimal grids.  

MathPad Plus


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