The schools in my Ohio, both public schools and colleges, are struggling financially after many budget cuts from the state. There is little money to spread around, and everyone I know is trying to find financially corners to cut. Assistive technology for students cannot be one of those corners. This is true, first of all, because it is law. According to Roblyer (2016), the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 1997 requires all students’ IEPs to consider assistive technology as part of the learning plan. Beyond the legal argument, morally a school should provide assistive technology to all of the students. I believe, and I know I am one of the majority on this issue, all of my students have value and the right to learn in the way that is most effective for each of them. Also, when a school has access to assistive technology, it will not only help students who are on IEPs but also the many students who are on the fringes of struggle in our classrooms.
Rose, Meyer, Strangman, and Rappolt (2002) have an enlightening illustration about teaching students about a fictional wug. In their illustration, a wug can be symbolized by a dash. But what if the dash is a little longer? Is it still a wug? What about if it is a wavy dash? Still a wug? According to the authors, the universal design for learning (UDL) means students receive information through multiple formats and can provide information in multiple formats. When students receive information through multiple sources, it helps them understand the context of their new knowledge. It helps them understand the complexities of what a wug really is. This illustration made me think differently about how difficult some of the material of my class might be for a student who struggles with accessibility and my curriculum. I don’t teach wugs, but I do teach a lot of other ideas that students may need assistive technology in order to find success in my classroom.
Rose, D. H., Meyer, A., Strangman, N., & Rappolt, G. (2002). Teaching every student in the Digital Age: universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.