Thursday, February 28, 2013

Assistive Technology Internet Modules

This website is a free resource providing modules in assistive technology.  These modules provide information on assistive technology.  The website also provides links to resources to download materials and locate other websites on assistive technology.  Read below to find some information on three modules found on the website.

AT Assessment Process in the School Environment
This module was extremely important to me as a special education and general education teacher.  What is important at the beginning of this process is to gather information which includes environment and tasks, this information is then used to select the devices/software and services that will be provided to the student.  Something new to me is the considerations that need to take place regarding the student some of these are; which tasks to target, the environments in which the tasks will be performed, obtaining AT options, conducting trials, and progress monitoring.  It is important that the AT team address all the concerns and document each step.  Prior to reviewing this module I was unaware of the multiple models of Assessment Teams.  This was informative to me as a teacher, because I may be in a district where one of these models is used and I will be familiar with the format.  It is important that the AT assessment process be done by a multidisciplinary group of individuals and never by only one person.  The AT feature matching video was informative and it showed and easy, simple way to help match the students skills/needs to an assistive technology device.  Students need a sufficient amount of time to try their AT equipment or software, and in the environments that it will be used in.  It is important that detailed notes and data are collected on each AT used by the student.  This is important to find out what the student has tried and what worked or did not work.  This information will be useful when determining the AT devices used.

An area that I found very interesting and useful at the same time was the AT implementation stage.  This happens after trials of devices and deciding on which on will work best.  It is important because there is multiple pieces of information that need to be discussed and these include training of the AT, environmental considerations, ongoing evaluations, and the roles and responsibilities of team members. A resource provided on the website was a organizer for roles and responsibilities of the team members, it is a AT implementation organizer.  This is definitely something that I will use in my future as a teacher and bring to IEP meetings and use when implementing assistive technology in the classroom.  The transition planning stage is not something that I thought about prior to this module and I have realized its importance because as students transition through their education, there are many challenges and differences that need to be understood and accommodated for.  This is something for me to be aware of in the future and to take time to understand this stage and incorporate it into IEP meetings.  

Some resources provided on the module that can be useful for all teachers are listed below( these resources are posted and provided by the AT Internet Modules website):

AT for Seating, Positioning and Mobility
AT for Communication
AT for Computer Access
AT for Writing, Including Motor Aspects
AT for Composition of Written Material
AT for Reading
AT for Math
AT for Organization
AT for Recreation and Leisure
AT for Activities of Daily Living
AT for Blind/ low vision
AT for Deaf/Hard of Hearing
AT for Multiple Challenges

AT Consideration in the IEP Process

This module focuses on AT consideration in the IEP process.  According to IDEA 2004, assistive technology needs to be considered with all students receiving special education services.  The Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology group provides a guide for best practice with AT services that correspond with legal mandates and federal laws.  Some general questions to ask when considering AT at and IEP meeting are (1) What areas of need are not being met? (2)What goals and/or benchmarks do not have the necessary tools for achievement? (3)What tasks require adult assistance to complete?  When making the decision on what type of AT to use, data can be organized into a SETT (Student, environment, task, tools; example show above) Framework. There are many forms that IEP team members use during the decision making process and OCALI Checklist is one.  This form assesses how the student functions in academics, communication, access, activities of daily living, social behavior, vision and hearing.  This form can help IEP team members to recommend and decide on appropriate AT devices for the student.  When an AT assessment is decided during the IEP meeting, it must be written in the IEP as a service, indicating the areas of concern. Some tools to guide assessment are SETT framework, Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative,  Georgia Project for Assistive Technology, and Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Guiding document.
This section of the module was useful and informative.  The information provided will be extremely useful to my future IEP meetings as a professional.  There were many resources that were useful that I have now found easily accessible thanks to this module.  My knowledge on the IEP process and decision making process of AT has increased, and I have much more to learn.  After completing this, it has sparked my interest in the field of AT at the school age level.  

Automatic Speech Recognition

Automatic Speech Recognition is a computer software that allows a person to control a computer using speech.  There are many people that can benefit from ASR software including those with physical disabilities that are unable to manipulate writing tools, those who struggle with writing and spelling such as the mechanics or the writing process, and many others to help increase typing speed and accuracy. ASR can be used in many environments, ideally it should be a quiet workspace.  In the classroom, it can be difficult because words are no longer just on paper for one person to read, and they can be private thoughts.  When using ASR all those thoughts become open for all to hear.  This is something to take into consideration because not all students/people like having everybody hear what they are thinking.   There are many ASR products, depending on the needs of the user, each one has its advantages and disadvantages, below are the links to access information on these products.
This is a very useful product to have available to all students in the classroom.  I have had the opportunity to use Dragon in high school and even for me, who is physically able to write and type and has experienced no difficulties thought it to me a useful tool. I am able to write well when speaking out loud and this product allows me to do that and type it at the same time. This is a product that is free in some cases but for the Dragon home software it is a reasonable price and this is reasonable software to have in the classroom.  This would definitely be an investment in my classroom in the future.

Common ASR Software and Devices:

Dragon Mobile Applications
Dragon Naturally Speaking


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