Assitive Technology

1749 Words7 Pages
Computer technology is advancing at a rapid rate, causing the diversity and availability of assistive technology computer resources to have a tremendous impact for special education students across the United States. Assistive technology provides an opportunity for students with physical, emotional, and mental disabilities to acquire universal access to tools and opportunities for learning. Despite studies showing the benefits of assistive technology, many school districts fail to achieve the fullest potential that assistive technology can offer. This paper will define assistive technology, identify several obstacles of effective implementation, and present various approaches to overcoming those obstacles. Assistive technology is defined as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that issued to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities" (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 1997). While assistive technology can include low-tech items such as canes, wheelchairs, and writing tool holders, this paper is going to focus on high-tech assistive technology electronic devices and software. Depending on the disability of the student, various assistive technology devices can be utilized. Some physical adaptations include modified computer keyboards that involve color coding, alphabetically arranged keys, and adapted wands and pointers to increase accessibility and input accuracy (Starkman, 2007). Verbal and visual adaptations include programs utilizing OCR recognition, speech to text recognition, text to speech applications, enhanced multimedia applications, and organizational software. The emergence... ... middle of paper ... ...s, all parties involved will have a clear understanding of the expectations, integration, and evaluation of the procedure in place. It is evident that assistive technology has a tremendous positive impact on learning for students. These tools allow students with disabilities to function in ways that otherwise not be possible, which can promote learning, accessibility, and positive motivation. The lack of district and school leadership, teacher training and awareness, and the lack of streamlined decision making processes are obstacles that can prevent the effectiveness of the implementation of assistive technology. By creating a unified vision, effective professional development, efficient teacher preparedness academic programs, and well designed implementation plans, districts can overcome these obstacles and reach the needs of the students who need it most.

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