Cavanaugh (2008) describes “Assistive technologies as any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities”. Assistive technology devices gave teachers a tool to support students with disabilities to improve their capabilities, increase independent participation in their learning (Scherer, 2004). In order for the classroom teacher to effectively incorporate assistive technology into the inclusive classroom there needed to be a level of teacher knowledge on the subject. School principals hiring teachers were having to change their expectations of teacher graduates to include skills in the effective implementation of assistive technologies for student with varying needs (Cavanaugh, 2008). Teacher colleges were having to change their program to ensure teacher candidates were being taught skills and knowledge in the area of assistive technologies. Alkahtani (2013) was reporting teachers were expected by 2010 to be considering assistive technologies in the writing in the Individual Education Plans for students with special needs. But the question arises did the teachers have enough knowledge to make an informed decision. The question then arises of what support is there for the teacher because “a teacher that has a strong support system, including an assistive technology team or possibly a mentor or colleague with knowledge pertaining to assistive technology, will have the opportunity to diffuse assistive technology more effectively” (Jahnukainen, 2012, p492). By showing the teacher the student work pre and post assistive technology lead to support of the teacher providing a more inclusive environment in the classroom, thus change was enabled. The challenge is to ask ourselves why is it thirty years after Bill 82 was proclaimed, do we still have students with special needs who needs are not being met in the inclusive classroom. What are we going to do about it?
Alkahtani,K. (2013). Teachers knowledge and use of assistive technology for students with special education needs. Journal of Studies in Education, 3(2), 65-86.
Cavanaugh, T. (2004) Assistive Technology and Inclusion. http://www.editlib.org/noaccess/13199
Jahnukainen, M. (2011) Different strategies, different outcomes? The history and trends of the inclusive and special education in Albera (Canada) and in Finland. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 55(5), 489-502.
Scherer, J. (2004) The move from separate to inclusive education. Connecting to learn: Educational and assistive technology for people with disabilities, 59-71. doi:10.1037/10629-004.