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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Implementation of Assistive Technology in Transition Planning

In all of this, one of the key points is that these devices and implementations have to be the STUDENT'S OWN CHOICE.  We cannot force anyone to communicate in a way that they don't want to.  It's just not fair.  We cannot expect them to always want to use a wheelchair over a walker, even though they get tired walking.  We cannot expect them to always wear their hearing aides especially when they get made fun of for them.  We have to consider what the student wants above all else. 

Another thing, along with core education and life skills, we need to teach our students how to be advocates for them selves.  I'm not sure I could even be considered an advocate for myself at this point. But it is something that we need to teach our students that it is ok to ask for help, that yes, you should stand up for your wants/needs. 

Implementation of Assistive Technology in Schools

This is the hardest subject.  Yes, it would be great to have the newest iPad version for EVERY student, not just those who need a device.  But let's be serious, there is not enough money in education for that to happen.  It's unfortunate and unfair, but sadly just something we as teachers have to accept for now. 

Another factor to think about in schools is that not every teacher was raised in a tech based era.  And that can be a hard thing to adjust to and think about for some.  I think about some of my college professors who could not work more than a premade powerpoint that the TA had to set up on the system for them.  Editing, going back, or even trying to get out of powerpoint to look at something else was far out of the question.  For a young teacher, technology is second nature for me.  I may not have the patience to use it sometimes, but if I stop my "learned helplessness" I can figure it out.  

Integrating Augmentative Communication in the Classroom, Home, and Community

In our early toddler classroom, it is obvious that the teachers are the examples for communication.  I can already see one of the little girls mimicking my intonation and animation quite well.  On the other hand, the students are learning to communicate quite well with eachother.  Two little girls are starting their own "language" basically that they seem to understand completely.

I have experienced Learned Helplessness on many occasions, sometimes even myself! It's something that is sneaky and easy to overlook because, as teachers, we always want to help! One way I've learned to combat it is to prompt the person along until they get on track.  It is hard not to, but taking a step back out of the "let me just do this for you" zone makes all the difference in the world.

Back to what I previously said about utilizing the iPod/iPad goes along with using communication devices at home and in the community.  They are instruments the everyday people are aware of and used to using to communicate at well.  So for them to read a program on an iPod would be much simpler than a PEC board sentence.  I think that is the route we should be focusing on for streamlining the user and community.

Assistive Technology Approaches to Teaching Early Communication and Emergent Literacy

I find this interesting because even though none of my early toddlers have "language disorders" they still have difficulties communicating.  Obviously, that is just because they are young developing minds, but it does bring around the same sense of helplessness on both parties.  We stress teaching sign language early on so that they can communicate somewhat with us, but even then, we sometimes feel that they are just saying "more" because they know the sign for it. 

I will say that the most amazing thing about early toddler literacy is that even though they cannot read the words, they sure do understand the pictures.  We read this book, "How Big is Baby Elmo" about 10 times a day and all of the teachers do over-animated movements to go along with the words and pictures.  Watching a student read the book by himself and do the motions was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.  Even when skipping pages, he could still recognize the picture and express the motion that went with it.  Talk about a proud mama!

Selecting and Designing a Student's Augmentative Communication System

I think one of the most obvious points of this chapter was the section "Who Should Assess? Collaborative Team Assessment Approach".  DUH! When it comes to making life changing decisions for a students, YES, more than one person should be involved.  And hopefully at least some of them know what they are talking about!

I never thought about an issue with Boardmaker being that a student may not be able to ready.  Granted, most of the blocks are just symbols, but a few have words for clarification.  That would be difficult to look at if you had dyslexia or something.  I like the labels opaque and transparent.  It makes it easier to understand as a person who can see these icons with no problem. 

The building sentences part is awesome! I always wondered how that would work on a device.  Otherwise, you would just be putting nouns together with no context. 

Reading that Tim uses his iPod Touch for his augmentative devices is incredible.  That's how we should be designing these devices.  Not bulky and single use. But small, concealable, and multifunctional devices.  Apple has some incredible developers to come up with apps and programs that can revolutionize AT.  I think that market needs to be tapped into more as opposed to outdated single-function devices. 

Issues in Selection of Access Methods

The use of the SETT model is vital in assessing a child.  It is a simple, yet effective way of truly looking at the child as opposed to just the "problems". 

The part of this chapter that I think is based on "ideals" and not "reality" is that "the AT selection must be based on student needs, not availability of technology". Sometimes, the availability is how you have to form the needs.  It's not possible in all school to get a PEC device, or a motorized wheelchiar.  I think things like that also need to be considered.  You have to deal with what you have and make what you have work for you. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Assistive Technology for Computer Access

Low-tech options for computers are such a great asset.  I once had a college professor who had severe CP and had no use of his arms or legs.  He would blow into a device that would direct his wheel chair.  He taught as an aide in our basis computing class.  When he would come over to help students, he would use a long stick device to press the keys on the keyboard.  With all of his advanced devices, it was was nice to see such a simple, accessible tool.

I was able to see the use of alternative keyboards in class a few weeks ago and that is such a cool tool.  I never thought of being able to use pictures as keys, but it makes total sense. It's amazing what technology can do these days!