Saturday, November 21, 2009

Assistive Technology, Module 2

This is a pic of my chosen hardware, the Sara Reader/Scanner...

I am always inspired by the accomplishments of people like Leigh-Ann Tompkins who has been able to run her own graphic design company, despite the fact that she is wheel chair bound and can only speak through the use of a computer due to cerebral palsy. People who have to overcome such obstacles in life are truly amazing, and it always makes me feel fortunate and like I should never let anything get me down.

I just reviewed the Tapped In session from this week, and one idea mentioned was the cost of assistive technology. After looking at the adaptive keyboards, mice, and touch screens featured in Module 2, the cost doesn't seem too outrageous. Some of the keyboards ranged from $160-175 with the Intelli-Keys being on the expensive side at $345. The HeadMouse is $995,and the Magic Touch Add-on Touch screen $170-$439.

I think there are many less expensive ways for teachers to aim for universal design in their lessons, and I really like Jurkowski's suggestions for instructional handouts and online materials as a supplement to classroom instruction. Pathfinders and webquests do a good job of appealing to students with different abilities as do Powerpoint presentations that include audio and graphics.

In the Tapped In session, some of mentioned other techniques including using larger fonts, different color backgrounds, Smartboards, and interactive handheld devices. I think those "clickers" that teachers are starting to use to get students to be able to respond, provide their input to questions simultaneously are really cool. This form of getting student input/feedback would be greatly appealing to shy students, students who have speech or oral communication difficulties and can input their answers to the teacher's questions without having to verbally respond.

I would be interested in hearing more ideas about inexpensive ways to help level the playing field for students who have disabilities from classmates!

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