Assistive Technology: Allowing for Equal Opportunities for All to Learn

November 18, 2018

Assistive Technologies allow for every student to learn in the ways that best suit their needs. As I have learned from the presentation from this week I learned that there are a vast variety that range from no tech, such as the pencil grip to low tech, like the FM system, to high tech which includes touch screen devices or read and write tech.

So, what is Assistive Tech? Here is a video to give some more information.

 

I have always had issues with technologies. They always tend to malfunction when I need them the most, or I always feel like I do things the hard way or get the broken devices. Whether it be working with ELMO that projects everything with a yellow tint, or the Promethean (similar to the SMART board) that sits broken for more than a year, or the outdated desktop computer that keeps the teacher stuck to the desk for many lessons because it isn’t portable. Any assistive technologies in my classroom, tend to be like these other devices, old and not updated or cared for. I feel that assistive technologies that I have seen or have used within the classroom tend to work if there is a specific student who currently needs it, but then that student ends up being identified and having a disability and the entire class knows about it. The costs tend to be acceptable because the specific student has the need, but I think about all other student who also could have benefited from these devices but may not have had such visible or high needs to make it a priority to the school.

Similar to Amy, I too have chosen to write about the FM system as the assistive tool that I have had the experience using. Ah yes, the lovely FM system

Image result for fm system in classroom

image source

that I first started using in my classroom would cut in and out, fail to charge, always need new batteries or some other malfunction. It was never a priority to have it fixed, even though I had made it known that it did not work up to standard.

H….H…ell….o. Testing…. 1…2…3…

But, like Amy, I too felt/students said I looked like a singer about to perform on stage. “Finally the cool teacher!” Ha ha. It wasn’t until I specifically had a student in my classroom that needed this system in order to hear me. This student had aids to assist with her hearing and the FM system allowed for her to hear me more clearly. I had never thought that my students would have trouble hearing me because I have always had a loud voice and projected when I spoke.

What I did not realize was that when I would face the board, or was not facing this student directly, she would hear half or nothing of what I was saying and thus needed the FM system as well as a device that I wore around my neck that would amplify the sound and direct it into her hearing aids.

excuse me what GIF

source

When I think about the video that was played in the presentation, about how the teacher introduces different assistive technology to the entire class, instead of the student to which it is directed, it allows for that student to keep his or her needs to himself or herself instead of having it publicly announced to the class. As I reflected upon this, I think that this would be the best way for me to introduce any assistive technologies to the classroom (if I can) so that I do my best to avoid having the one student stand out. I had never really thought that by introducing them in this way, I may also be reaching students who did not realize that they needed these technologies to make their learning more accessible.

In the case of this FM system, every student in the class had already know about this student’s hearing needs and they were all quite comfortable with it and they all did their best to assist her whenever possible in such friendly and helpful ways. Once it was well known that this student needed the FM system to hear, all the FM systems in the school got fixed or replaced. Whether this was to avoid singling out a specific student with hearing needs or if it created awareness to the benefits of the FM systems, it was a positive outcome in my school. I was happy to see that this would benefit the students that were unidentified with hearing needs. It took a while for my classroom to get a working FM system and probably could have assisted more students had it been updated on a regular basis.

Overall, I think that assistive technologies can help educators individualized student learning programs and that they should be available and maintained within all schools for all students who may need them to assist in their learning needs. It should be the priority of the school to maintain the devices they do have so that when there are students with these needs, they have immediate access to them in order to be able to continue learning in an not be hindered by lack of accessibility.

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