Assistive Technology is for Everyone

After four decades of use and countless research studies extolling its impact on creating accessible learning opportunities, why is Assistive Technology (AT) still being relegated to a reactive post-remediation plan for so many of our students and not seen as a proactive and integral path for fostering growth alongside other educational interventions? If Text-to-Speech provides greater multisensory exposure to vocabulary and improves comprehension (Stodden, et al, 2012) then why isn’t such AT provided to students alongside typical remediation practices? We all know the complaints: “AT is a crutch”, “children will choose AT over natural skill development”, and other unsubstantiated claims.

But that's not the real problem. The problem is us waiting until a child is struggling, is losing interest in learning, has been removed from participating with their peers one too many times, and is now doubting whether or not learning is within reach. Add to that the learning curve for mastering and integrating IEP recommended AT into a student’s classroom experience and you’ll discover the greatest challenge facing all students with disabilities–time. We can’t predict who will have a learning challenge, or whether professionals will be prepared with AT solutions when we do–so the only solution is to teach AT skills to ALL students and create a culture of multiple literacies in learning tools. This interactive session will promote a more proactive and holistic approach to remediation that encourages early access to AT in order to support “access and sustained engagement” (Edyburn, 2010) with rigorous academic content and skill development for all students, creating a more equitable classroom experience for all.

Welcome to the AThelp Blog. Blogging is such a self-indulgent exercise. I will pontificate, of that I'm certain. But at least it will be for a reason that matters. Bear with me and I will try my best to make this a useful venue for all readers.