Tuesday, 24 September 2013

An evening with Joy Zabala...

Tonight in my Assistive Technology class, Joy Zabala skyped in!


Some Joy quotes from the evening....

  • "An attitude about creativity and possibility can do wonders"
  • "Assistive Technology can be a barrier if to cumbersome."
  • "AT doesn't eliminate the need for instruction in social and academic skills."
  • "Don't talk about the tools until you have talked about who is going to use them, where they are going to use them and what you are using them for."

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Assistive Technology Legislation In Canada

Did you know that in Canada there is NO legislation that makes considering assistive technology for students with disabilities mandatory?

I have to be honest… Every time that I have an American textbook, I quickly peruse the chapter that looks at the legal focus of IDEA because it does not apply directly to me.  Last spring, I took an Assistive Technology Implementation course through Portland State University (PSU).  I was 1 of 2 Canadians in the group, with Americans who were from different states across the USA.  My American colleagues were very surprised to hear that in Canada we do not have the same type of policies related to Assistive Technology that they do in the USA.  IDEA mandates that assistive technology devices and services be provided to students with disabilities if the technology is essential for accessing education and education-related resources (Dell et al, 2008).  

Popular Misconceptions - Assistive Technology

This semester I am registered in 2 graduate classes - Research Methodology (not my favorite topic!) and Assistive Technology (one of my passions!!!).  We are currently reading:

Bugaj, C. R., Norton-Darr, S., & International Society for Technology,in Education. (2010). The practical (and fun) guide to assistive technology in public schools. Eugene, Or: International Society for Technology in Education.

In Chapter 2 - Bugaj and Norton-Darr discuss Popular Misconceptions in Assistive Technology.  Here is their list of "Things That Aren't True"

  • the purpose of assistive technology is to help students become independent
  • assistive technology is only computer stuff
  • assistive technology makes a teacher's job easier
  • assistive technology is just for students with severe disabilities
  • i'm not tech savvy enough to implement assistive technology
  • an evaluation needs to be done to provide assistive technology services
  • assistive technology is just for students with communication difficulties
  • assistive technology always costs a lot of money
  • a trial needs to be conducted for every assistive technology device before it is purchased
  • only people with specialized training in assistive technology can provide assistive technology services
  • a separate implementation plan needs to be written for every assistive technology device
  • a formal evaluation for assistive technology can take place anywhere

This is NOT AT…  Things I found interesting:
  •   “The purpose of Assistive Technology is to help students become independent” – I agree that this isn’t the purpose, but it is an AWESOME by-product of AT.  For example, our kiddos are not going to be able to depend on having a “reader” in the “real world”, but they will be able to be independent with difficult text using text-to-speech (TTS) software.  The purpose could be to have the student access text and material they couldn’t before.  The by-product is increased academic independence! 
  •  “Assistive Technology makes a teacher’s job easier” – I agree with the authors.  I actually think it is time consuming and a lot of work.  The student will need support with the AT, the teacher may need training with the AT and there will be data to collect – more than the “typical” student.
  • “Data should be collected on every assistive technology device”, “A trial needs to be conducted for every assistive technology device before it is purchased”, “A separate implementation device needs to be written for every assistive technology device” – These common misconceptions I found interesting!!!! 
    • I think doing a trial before an individual purchases “high-tech” software is important.  High-Tech Tools can be very expensive and I think it is important to trial it before spending a lot of money on something that might not be the best fit.  Do I think a trial needs to happen for all low-tech tools –NO.  A pencil grip is less than a dollar – just buy one and use it!!!  Without collecting data, how will you know if the technology is supporting what you had hoped it would?  I think data collection is important in the AT process; however, I think the data should be student focused not device focused.  I also think the an implementation plan is part of the data collection process – once again I don’t think you need a separate AT plan for devices, but the AT should be student focused by collecting what worked, what didn’t work and what could be improved.     
What do you think of Bugaj and Norton-Darr's list of "Things that aren't true"?  Do you agree with them all?