Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Self-Accommodation Should be a Standard of Daily Life
Think of the last time you accommodated something you needed to do. Did you find a tool to help you screw that screw in better, stand on a stool to reach higher, maybe grab your glasses because the print was too small on the side of the box?
We all self-accommodate our limits in skill, whether it is in hearing, vision, height or weight…okay, I will stop there! I think you get the picture. It is interesting to think about how our students accommodate their learning at school. In many ways they are dependent upon our ability to match the right accommodation with the disability they have because they might not be able to accurately tell us or show us or put in the right words what they need or what they can/can’t do to their best ability. They just know “something is too hard” or “it just doesn’t feel good when I try”. We adjust and adapt our way of doing a thing for ourselves but often our students don’t know they even have a choice let alone what the choices are.
Self-accommodation is best used when all the tools and strategies are available to all students. This is a principal of Universal Design for Learning that allows all students to learn in the style that works best for them and not feel different because they choose a tool out of the toolbox to help them spell, write, read or do math. Assistive technology should be all about accommodations that make learning feel good and makes it accessible and possible to accomplish and be successful.
So let me ask the question again, but re-phrase it a little this time. Think of the last time you helped one of your students self-accommodate something they needed to do. Did you offer them a set of headphones and a computer in the back of the room with a talking word processor to help proof-read and edit their writing? Did you offer them a talking dictionary? How about an electronic version of a worksheet or a literature selection that they could listen to and follow along with? There are accommodations that come in plastic colored opaque reading strips, magnifiers, jump drives with loaded study bar tools for organization and note-taking. There are low, mid and high tech tools, many of them free or low cost. There are incredible tools on iTouches and iPads that are making self-accommodation for reading and writing a fun and liberating thing.
Where to start? We will be presenting some of these tools in posts ahead. Begin to use some of these tools for yourself and they will become second-nature to use with your students. Also, students are so innately capable to grab onto technology that if you begin to offer some of these tools they might end up showing you a thing or two! Whatever we do, we need to think of how to help our students access learning in multiple ways with multiple tools and we all come out winners.
All the best,
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