Paying for Assistive Technology

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.

 


3 thoughts on “Paying for Assistive Technology

  1. Unfortunately, it always seems that there is never enough money for what we need in education. You remind us though that this is not optional when providing assistive technology to those who need it, because they are afforded that much by law. Regardless of whether the technology needs to service only one student in a school of hundreds, they still have the right to technology that will make learning possible for them. These need to be non-negotiable in school budgets. You make a good point when you mention that the technologies can also help struggling students who perhaps didn’t qualify for an IEP, but still struggle.

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  2. Great post, Dana!
    You did an excellent job explaining the need for UDL. Providing learning materials in multiple formats is time consuming, however, it is worth it because it helps teachers accomplish the number one goal: student learning!

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  3. Hi Dana,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your statement about assistive technology not only helping those on IEPs but the others who struggle made me think about the class as a whole. With the use of assistive technology, it can benefit the entire class because of distribution of teacher time. Assistive technology can help students with higher needs become more independent which frees the teacher to be able to work with more students. I think of students who have that content should be read to them. With no technology this requires that an adult is reading information to 1 or 2 students while the rest of the class is somewhat left on their own. With assistive technology, the information can be read to the students through the use of reading programs or even the teacher recording his or her own voice ahead of time.

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