Sunday, December 6, 2009

AT Module 5

1. What one thing did you learn, and what will you do differently as a result?
Again, I find it very difficult to pick just ONE thing I learned from this tutorial. I think it has all been incredibly valuable, and it's hard to place exactly what I will take with me in my future working with children and the public; as I come across new situations, I am sure I will view them from a new perspective. The lesson plans in this module and the etiquette have probably been the most influential. (Although the hardware and software really demonstrate the ways that people with disabilities can complete tasks independently... like I said, it's hard to pick just one).

2. Do you plan to recommend this tutorial? If so, please elaborate.

As a member of my school's technology committee, I will certainly recommend this tutorial. We are always on the lookout for new information, tutorials, and resources to share with our staff. This will be incredibly helpful for increasing awareness of needs, etiquette, assistive technology, and helpful resources.

3. Do you plan to read or recommend some of the Recommended Reading books or add them to your collection? Will you link our LibraryThing list to your blog? If you have a book recommendation or have read one of the books that does not include a review, please send us your own review so we can share it.
I will probably return to this tutorial after I have completed my graduate program. At this time, I have found it incredibly difficult to read anything other than materials required for coursework and for my job as a classroom teacher. In the future, I would like to consult some of the materials mentioned in this tutorial, and will certainly add some of them to my own Library Thing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

AT Module 4

#1 - The students at my school are at an advantage because of the many people with disabilities with whom they interact on a daily basis. From the obvious disabilities like students in wheelchairs, students with vision impairments, and a teacher with one arm, to the hidden disabilities as mentioned in Discovering AT, our students view these as part of everyday life in our community. We invite the MD School for the Blind to perform a concert every year, and they invite questions from the students at the end. Our students are curious about people who are different from them in any way, but this also includes adults (we are VERY different to our 6 year olds!) and volunteers who work interesting jobs. Our students are used to both low and high-tech AT, like those Jurkowski mentions on p. 106. From pencil grips and Braille to talking calculator and screen readers, they are a part of our school community as much as pencils and computers are. I try to establish a cooperative classroom environment, where my students feel safe and accepted. My class this year is especially outgoing - always offering to help a friend, from holding a hand to lead someone to the cafeteria to reading together.

#2 - I was happy to do well on the quiz! From my first undergrad class in education, we've been taught PFL, or "people first language," so the first part was especially easy. I felt a bit silly about one of the "Ten Commandments.." I often catch myself saying "Let's see what..." or "see you later!" to a visually impaired student, and try to say something else instead. The quiz reminded me that I don't have to change my language, and should talk to these students the same way I would talk to others.

#3 - According to the CIL search, there are 7 Independent Living Centers in MD. I researched Making Choices for Independent Living, Inc., which is the closest to me as it is located in Baltimore. It is the oldest and largest CIL in the state, dedicated to helping clients take control of the decisions in their lives. MCIL provides numerous resources and holds events to benefit their clients. I was disappointed with the lack of recent updates on their website, however. They encourage the community to speak out against "Inaccessible Technology," and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As Jurkowski notes on p. 80, even websites featured in schools and libraries can be inaccessible due to easily-fixable components like font and color schemes.
I had some difficulty with the ATA website, but was able to read some of their inspirational success stories.

#4 - There are so many helpful sites about AT, it was hard to pick just five. I tried to include a variety:
1. Family Guide to Assistive Technology:
Created by Parents, Let's Unite for Kids in 1999, this website is full of information from definitions, to examples, evaluations, and case studies. Although there are no bells and whistles (black text on a white background), there is a wealth of information that can help an overwhelmed family get started, or serve as a reference.
2. AbleData: "AbleData provides objective information about assistive technology products and rehabilitation equipment" You cannot purchase products through AbleData, but you can search products in numerous categories, read reviews, and find retailers online.
3. Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO): Created by the School of Public Health and Health Professions of The University of Buffalo/State University of NY, this site includes AT Basics, tutorials, help in decision-making, and resources. I've bookmarked this site, as the information and tutorials are geared toward those working with elementary students in need of AT.
4. ablebody: Ablebody features the latest publications and news regarding AT and people with disabilities. A blog, "profoundly yours," is included, as well as news articles, expert opinions, and new information regarding assistive technology.
5. EnableMart:
This retail website includes AT in more than ten categories, including vision, learning, hearing, and many more. As a future school library media specialist, I need to have access to purchase AT for my school, and Enable Mart offers an incredible variety. It also features information on educational purchases, and purchasing AT through a school stimulus plan.