Friday, March 28, 2008

Assistive Technology is Worth The Effort: Part One in a Series

Putting Out the Effort in Implementing Assistive Technology is Really Worth the Time and Energy it Takes: Part 1 of 3

I was reading a blog post from 2005 by Charles Fox on his Special Education Law Blog and the information is so very important. Every parent of a special needs child should read it. You can read his post linked here, "Assistive Technology is Worth Fighting For." He says:

"Without assistive technology in school, many special needs children may not stand a fighting chance to succeed. Parents need to do their homework and come prepared to advocate for the assistive technology needs of their child. Although assistive technology may be expensive, the payoff for the child who is able to achieve at school is invaluable."

There are many elements related to getting assistive technology for a child. There are initial evaluations. Then there are trials of equipment and re-assessments and other trials until the most effective device is found. There are training requirements and care for a device once purchased that needs to be clarified. Who maintains it and trains to use it has to be carefully thought out. Funding for the purchase can be a challenge. Once the device is purchased then the real work begins - training and implementation. There are times when I see this piece as the hardest because everyone tends to relax and think the student has the device now and so everything will be fine. Unless the implementation phase is thought out, a student might as well stick the device on a shelf and forget they have it. Even in well-meaning districts and schools where everyone is cooperative and in favor of a device being used, devices drop low of the potential they could have because of improper understanding on how to implement the device into the curriculum and school day.

Even though these elements may seem daunting to undertake, the results are well worth it when you see a child able to communicate or read, write and keep up with the rest of the class. I have a boy that used Kurzweil 3000, a scanning software that takes worksheets and textbook pages, scans them and presents them as editable documents. This CP student was able to scan worksheets, fill them in with an on-screen virtual keyboard and print them off and turn them in. His teacher said this was the first time in his fourth grade year that he had been able to do the same worksheet with the class and turn it in. He was so proud of his accomplishment and he felt that he was getting a chance to fit in and be like the other kids. That is so important for the socialization pieces that need to happen for kids.

If you are a parent, don't give up and don't be discourged. Doing your homework is a HUGE job and I will offer some options and resources next time on the homework part of putting out effort.

All the best to you!


1 comment:

Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D said...

Hi Lon:

You are right on target- keep up the great work you are doing!

Brian S. Friedlander