Sunday, November 15, 2009

Assistive Technology - Module 1

I am excited for this step-by-step instruction in assistive technology. Much of what I now know has come from working as a classroom teacher. I've been exposed to many new ideas that have really impressed me ("Wow! Who thought of that? What a great idea!").

My school is a designated "visually impaired" school, so browsing through the NFB website was really interesting for me. Aside from the usual range of strengths and needs among our students, we are set up to specially accommodate students with a range of visual impairments. Those who do not attend MD School for the Blind attend our school. This means our students are constantly interacting with students with visual impairments. From braille writers to brailled books, letter tiles, 3-D illustrations, canes, and MUCH more, our students have been exposed to it all. Braille technicians support classroom teachers with materials, while providing direct instruction to the students regarding assistive technology, braille, and more. Classroom teachers are incredibly creative when it comes to making everyday teaching accessible to all students. This can include objects for a visually impaired student to hold during literature (ie - reading about a tiger, so he can hold a stuffed tiger, feeling the ears, tail, teeth, etc) or introducing other students to the ways the impaired student experiences the world.

As a first grade teacher, many of my students are just beginning to learn language, so examining print from a different perspective, like braille, is accepted as just another way some people learn to read. We've certainly had some interesting discussions as teachers about how to teach and assess reading strategies with visually impaired students, especially when it comes to decoding.

I explored JAN, and learned about how it helps employers, people with disabilities, people who work in rehabilitation, in order to make workplaces more accommodating.
I also explored the NCLD link for teachers, and was actually disappointed. Most of the information I found said to look to the student's IEP for their accommodations. This is common sense. I suppose the site could not really give more than that, as it would mean they'd have to make many generalizations about the needs of students with learning disabilities. The site does provide helpful information for teachers and parents about what learning disabilities are, and how they factor into a child's learning.

1 comment:

  1. what a great learning environment for all students!

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