The Education System has come a long way when it comes to accessibility and education rights for all. With time, assistive technologies have become more known, more advanced, and at times, more attainable so that everyone can have access to an education. Assistive technologies have changed many lives, have made learning possible, and have allowed many students to succeed. Sometimes, assistive technologies do have it’s challenges depending on the circumstance, the place, or the person that is using it.
Colton, Nicole, and Todd took us through the history of assistive technologies, the different types of assistive tech, learning theories, key beliefs, and the impacts it has on education.
From the historical side, I was a bit mindblown at how much the rights to education differed depending on the country or the year. Some students were excluded from education simply because they either learned differently or had different needs that didn’t “fit” into the norm. Of course, there are still some children who do not have access to education, but assistive tech in some ways has helped close the learning gap.
My Experience With Assistive Tech
It’s hard for me to think about my students and how some of their disabilities, no matter what it is, could have lost their access to an education if they had lived in a different country or a different era.
I haven’t had much experience with assistive tech that would be considered high-tech. I’ve had a student with their own laptop so they could use speech to text. I had a cooperating teacher in my internship class use a microphone that was connected to a student’s hearing aid so the teacher’s voice was only amplified for them. I’ve had students use pencil grips, slant boards, adaptive seating, and fidgets.
There are many ways to help students succeed and these assistive technologies can range from minor assistance that do not require much funding or changes in the classroom. However, some technologies do require more money. The way a country, a school, a teacher, and a student use and perceive these technologies will offer different advantages and challenges.
Reasoning Behind Assistive Tech
Colton, Nicole, and Todd shared a great article with us that explains the reasoning behind assistive technologies, their impacts on education, and why it’s so important that kids have equal opportunities when it comes to learning. I appreciated when the author included the fact that it “takes a village” to raise a child. Assistive tech does have its challenges, but every person in a child’s life needs to be rooting for and supporting them in a way that makes them feel included and cared for. That’s how they succeed.
Advantages of Assistive Technologies
Here are some advantages that stood out to me during the presentation this week, as well as in the shared resources:
- Allows for more independence and autonomy: This can bring a student more success and make them proud of what they can achieve.
- Reduces one on one support from teachers, educational assistants, or learning resource teachers.
- Allows for inclusivity and for students to feel considered.
- Increases engagement.
Challenges and Limitations of Assistive Technology
Here are some challenges and limitations that stood out to me during the presentation this week, as well as in the shared resources:
- Teachers have limited training in some assistive tech- They are usually thrown into it without being taught how to use it properly.
- Assistive Tech can be expensive and inaccessible. There also isn’t enough funding.
- There’s inconsistency when a student moves from classroom to classroom every year.
- Some students don’t want to be seen as different if they have assistive tech. They may not want to use it.
Impacts on Education- Perceived, Idealized, Actual
It’s important to note that a lot of technology has perceived, idealized and actual impacts on education. When it comes to assistive technologies, we also see those impacts. Sometimes, we idealize tech and what it can do for us. We think that it will solve all the different needs in the classroom and that our students will be engaged every second of their school day. Sometimes it’s the opposite and we perceive assistive tech as something that is distracting and that is only limited to high-tech or special needs. The actual impact assistive tech has on education is somewhere in the middle. It helps close gaps in learning, fosters inclusive teaching practices, and helps students perform to the best of their ability.
I am all for inclusivity, representation, and helping my students succeed ( isn’t every teacher?) Assistive technologies have made way for more inclusive education and raises awareness that not every student learns the same way. I’m happy that assistive tech has allowed for every child to have the right to an education, no matter what they need to learn. We do have some progress to make when it comes to being a bit more inclusive, training, funding, and the accessibility of assistive tech for every student who needs it, but in my classroom, I’m always willing to do my best so my students can learn using what works best for them.
What holds you or your students back from using some assistive tech in your classroom?
Thanks for reading!