Home > Standard 1: Design > EDTECH 541: Rationale for Assistive/Adaptive Technology

EDTECH 541: Rationale for Assistive/Adaptive Technology

Schools and libraries are struggling to meet their budgets and must still comply with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act.  It often seems as if accommodations are made and money is spent on a very small percentage of the population.  How can we justify spending large amounts of money to buy assistive technologies that might only be used by a small number of people?

My first reply to this question is that we will justify the spending because it’s the law.  Roblyer and Doering 2013 note that “special education, more than any other areas of education, is governed by laws and politics” (p. 400).  In an effort to follow the laws that govern us, educators must find a way to integrate assistive technology.  The Technology-Related Assistance Act for Individuals with Disabilities that was passed in 1988 makes provisions for this law.  Funding and services are available to provide technology to assist those with disabilities (Roblyer and Doering, 2013, p. 400).  Schools and libraries need to consult local, state, and federal education specialists to locate sources of funding to help fund resources to meet the needs of those with disabilities.assistive

As a result of legislation, students with disabilities are included in classrooms now whereas they had been previously separated.  Inclusion demands that assistive technologies be brought into the general education classroom.  Students with disabilities are finding that they can meet the same expectations as their peers.  “Between 1996–97 and 2005–06, the percentage of students with disabilities exiting school with a regular high school diploma increased from 43 to 57 percent” (NCES).  In a period of nine years, the graduation rate of students with disabilities rose 14%.  “This increase is attributed to, among other things, enhanced technology, expanded support service programs, and higher expectations of what students with disabilities can accomplish” (Gelbwasser, 2012).  As we make accommodations for students with special needs, we will see that their ability to function independently, graduate from college, and secure meaningful employment rises as well.

The Connecticut Libraries newsletter of the Connecticut Library Association featured and article about funding for assistive technology.  This article was titled: “Adaptive Technology: Not Just For People With Disabilities.”  This article brings to light the fact that adaptive and assistive technologies can be used by anyone and often people who aren’t classified with a disability can benefit and learn using these technologies.

          The most common problem hindering students, faculty, staff and

          administrators from using the adaptive technology area, or from

          taking the time to attend training sessions, is a misunderstanding

          of who can benefit from adaptive technology.  Those who have

          attended training sessions and then used the new equipment have

          already discovered that it makes the process of writing academic

          assignments easier. In some cases, students disclosed challenges

          with reading and writing that were previously unknown to the library

          staff. Overall, these students believe that the adaptive technology

          area will become even more useful to them as they get more

          experience with the equipment (Gelbwasser, 2012).

Thus, it is incumbent upon schools and libraries to understand that assistive technologies will aid more than a small population of people.  Shifting paradigms to consider all people as recipients for assistive technology can take the sting out required budgetary expenses.  Moreover, a change in thinking can help schools and libraries to secure the proper training and marketing for these technologies to target a larger audience.  Additionally, with the invention of assistive technologies, people with disabilities are now asking for more assistance.  The more that assistive technologies are included in regular school and library functions, the more demand there will be for those types of services.

Resources:

Gelbwasser, S. E. (2012).  Adaptive Technology: Not Just For People With Disabilities.  Retrieved from: http://www.webjunction.org/documents/webjunction/Adaptive_Technology_Not_Just_For_People_With_Disabilities.html

National Center for Education Statistics.  Students With Disabilities Exiting School With a Regular Diploma.  Retrieved from: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_sdd.asp

Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

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  1. Nathaniel Irwin
    December 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    I think educators are becoming more and more aware of learning disabilities in the student population. I have seen the special education population in my school continually grow over the past ten years. As more students are identified and qualify for special education the need for adaptive technology will continue to increase. While it may only be helping a small percentage of the population today, I believe the benefits of assistive technology will be felt greatly by future generations.

  2. Anonymous
    December 1, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Darla,

    I really enjoyed your post! We had similar threads running through our blog entries. I also touched on the fact that we are bound by the law to provide education to all students and that much of the technology that supports learners with disabilities is highly beneficial to all learners. Both seem like foundational reasons to support funding this type of technology in education.

    I thought the statistics that you included helped support a very compelling case for funding assistive technology. They were very informative and I found them very inspirational as well. Sometimes the things we do in education aren’t so measurable or so positive, so I was glad to see such an upward trend. Excellent post this week!

    Angela

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