Course Description

Prerequisites: Acceptance in Education Specialist Level II program or Master of Science in Special Education program, development of an Individualized Induction Plan, or consent of instructor. Overview of Assistive Technology and Augmentative communication for individuals with exceptional needs. Examination of legislation, devices, and services using assistive technology and augmentative communication. Advanced development of Computer Assisted Instruction across the curriculum for individuals with exceptional needs. Introduction to assistive technology assessment. Principles of augmentative communication systems. Letter grade only (A-F)

This course was completed in Spring 2006.

Artifacts

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Report

The UDL report was a short paper describing my experiences using UDL in coursework as well as personal experience. As I am not a classroom teacher, I focused on my workplace experiences especially those pertaining to web accessibility and how concepts of that interweaves with UDL.

This assignment aligns with the course objective regarding curriculum development for individuals with exceptional needs.

Product Trial

The product trial assignment was meant as an exercise in how to properly select and evaluate an assistive technology product for an individual. For my product evaluation, I selected JAWS 7 which is a tool used by low-vision or blind individuals to use a computer. In both my professional and educational careers, product selection and evaluation are important skills one must master. This exercise taught me the importance of looking at the individual person than just generalizing a group of people. In assistive technology, it is important to match the right technology for the individual.

This assignment aligns with the course objective regarding assessment of assistive technology.

Research Paper

For my research paper, I choose to research selecting assistive technology for low-vision or blind individuals to surf websites. I choose to expand on my product trial as I felt it is important to understand the full concept of selecting assistive technology for low-vision or blind individuals. These concepts go beyond simply picking a technology. In order to properly select a technology, one must understand the background and concepts of the web and multimedia, with emphasis on the difficulties one could encounter. In addition, understanding the disability as well as personal preferences must be taken into consideration. It is not as simple as saying here is a screen reader, use it.

This assignment aligns with the course objective regarding assessment of assistive technology as well as examining legislation and devices for assistive technology.

Reflection

As an elective course, I found this one to be very useful in my education and professional career. Concepts of universal design, assistive technology, and how it all fits together expanded my knowledge in the area helping individuals with disabilities.

The artifacts I selected show a range of ideas I was exposed to throughout the course. Starting with an introduction paper on Universal Design for Learning, I found that concepts within my professional career paralleled those of the classroom special education teacher. I strove to develop web site that anyone could use regardless of ability. From there, my product trial became an introduction to using JAWS 7, something I had demonstrated to me many times, but never had used myself. This taught me an awareness for how my design decisions affect the screen reader user. However, I expanded on the product trial for my research paper and discovered assistive technology for low-vision and blind Internet users it not a one size fits all solution. Some individual, may prefer Braille while others prefer a screen reader and others may not need either but require screen enlarging software.

Overall, I highly recommend my fellow students take this course with an open mind. The concepts learned here go beyond just dealing with individuals with disabilities. Concepts of universal design can assist and enhance designing online or hybrid courses. Assistive technology selection skills can also help general technology selection for online or hybrid courses. This course helps one understand the importance of assessing the target audience of learners in order to help them achieve their full potential through proper development of learning materials.