Infusing a Teacher Preparation Program in Learning Disabilities with Assistive Technology

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<ul><li><p> of Learning Disabilities</p><p> online version of this article can be found at:</p><p> DOI: 10.1177/002221949803100106</p><p> 1998 31: 55J Learn DisabilDiane Pedrotty Bryant, Jane Erin, Robin Lock, James M. Allan and Paul E. Resta</p><p>Infusing a Teacher Preparation Program in Learning Disabilities with Assistive Technology </p><p>Published by:</p><p> Hammill Institute on Disabilities</p><p>and</p><p></p><p> can be found at:Journal of Learning DisabilitiesAdditional services and information for </p><p> Alerts: </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> What is This? </p><p>- Jan 1, 1998Version of Record &gt;&gt; </p><p> at Abant Izzet Baysal University on May 13, 2014ldx.sagepub.comDownloaded from at Abant Izzet Baysal University on May 13, 2014ldx.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p><p></p></li><li><p>Infusing a Teacher Preparation Program in Learning Disabilities with Assistive Technology Diane Pedrotty Bryant, Jane Erin, Robin Lock, James M. Allan, and Paul E. Resta </p><p>Abstract </p><p>A recent trend in the fields of special education, rehabilitation, and technology is the development and implementation of assistive technology (AT) devices and services to assist individuals in compensating for disabilities and/or utilizing functional capabilities to meet environmental demands. AT devices and services have major implications for individuals with learning disabilities (LD) regarding life span issues, environmental and curricular accessibility, and compensatory strategies. Faculty members in higher education who are responsible for designing teacher preparation programs in LD must explore ways to structure curricula, methodologies, and practica to better prepare teachers to work with students who use AT devices to compensate for their specific learning disabilities. The purpose of this article is to describe curriculum design steps and barriers to and solutions for infusing LD teacher preparation programs with assistive technology. </p><p>One of the goals of any teacher preparation program is to pro-vide an educational curricu-lum that reflects research-based "best practice" and is compatible with pub-lic education trends and philosophies. A current trend in the fields of special education, rehabilitation, and technol-ogy is to train individuals with disabil-ities in the use of assistive technology (AT) devices and services to compen-sate for their disabilities and/or utilize their functional abilities to meet envi-ronmental demands. The impetus for this assistive technology training trend stems from the passage of federal leg-islation such as the 1992 Amendments of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabili-ties Act of 1990 (ADA), the Individ-uals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabil-ities Act Amendments of 1994 (known as the Tech Act), which mandate accessi-bility and accommodations for individ-uals with disabilities to promote inte-gration and full participation in society. </p><p>Probably one of the most influen-tial and potentially beneficial laws is the Tech Act, which supports the devel-opment of programs that will ensure access to appropriate assistive technol-ogy devices and services for individ-uals with disabilities and their families. The Tech Act defines assistive technol-ogy device as "any item, piece of equip-ment, or product system, whether ac-quired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve func-tional capabilities of individuals with disabilities," and services as "any ser-vice that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acqui-sition, or use of an assistive technol-ogy service" (p. 102, Stat., 1046). "De-vices" encompass low technology (e.g., reachers, pencil grips, zipper pulls) and high technology (e.g., alternate computer keyboards, speech synthe-sizers, scanners); "services" include as-sessment, interagency coordination efforts, and training. </p><p>For individuals with learning dis-abilities (LD), who exhibit a variety </p><p>and range (i.e., mild to severe) of learn-ing and behavioral characteristics across the lifespan, of assistive tech-nologies look promising. Assistive technology devices and services have major implications regarding lifespan issues and environmental and curricu-lar accessibility. AT devices could be used to facilitate acquisition of aca-demic, vocational, and daily living skills, and instruction in computer technology and written communica-tion, to help students compensate for specific learning disabilities (Church &amp; Glennen, 1992; Raskind, 1993). For example, most students with learning disabilities exhibit some type of read-ing problem. In some cases, scanning the text and using a voice synthesizer to read material may be quite appro-priate so students can access the read-ing material more easily and thus focus more on comprehending rather than decoding the material. Other students with LD may exhibit problems with fine-motor skills and thus have diffi-culties using standard keyboards to ac-cess word processing programs on the </p><p>JOURNAL OF LEARNING DISABILITIES VOLUME 31, NUMBER 1, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1998, PAGES 55-66 </p><p> at Abant Izzet Baysal University on May 13, 2014ldx.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p><p></p></li><li><p>56 JOURNAL OF LEARNING DISABILITIES </p><p>classroom computer. For these young-sters, a variety of alternative keyboard options exist that offer different ways to create their stories. </p><p>Training individuals with LD and their families in assistive technology devices and services has ramifications for teacher preparation programs. As more students with LD in general and special education settings are identi-fied as needing assistive technology devices and services, teacher prepara-tion programs will have to address training issues and identify ways to infuse their curriculum with assistive technologies. Faculty members in higher education who are responsible for designing teacher preparation programs in LD must explore ways to structure curricula, methodolo-gies, and practica to better prepare teachers to work effectively with stu-dents who use AT devices. The pur-pose of this article is to describe (a) curriculum design steps and (b) barriers to and solutions for incor-porating assistive technology into learning disabilities teacher prepara-tion programs. </p><p>Curriculum Design Steps </p><p>Armstrong (1989) defined curricu-lum as a plan for the selection and organization of student experiences to change and develop behaviors. We have identified five steps for develop-ing a preservice teacher preparation assistive technology curriculum, based on Taba's (cited in Wiles &amp; Bondi, 1993) curriculum design model. We chose this model because of its empha-sis on addressing rationales, compe-tencies, content development, creative learning experiences, and program evaluation. Following is a description of the five curriculum design steps: (a) determining the need, (b) estab-lishing teacher competencies and ob-jectives, (c) identifying the curriculum, (d) organizing the curriculum and learning experiences, and (e) eval-uating the effectiveness of the curric-ulum. </p><p>Determining the Need In determining the need for a new </p><p>curriculum, instructors should exam-ine current educational trends and research. Educational trends and re-search will be examined briefly to determine how they influence the deci-sion to implement an AT curriculum. </p><p>Educational Trends. The initiation of inclusive settings, whereby students with LD spend most, if not all, of their day in the general education setting, is certainly a controversial educational trend (Bateman, 1994; Fuchs &amp; Fuchs, 1994; Hallahan &amp; Kauffman, 1994), one consequence of which is that general and special education teachers will have to demonstrate competencies with various devices. For instance, general educators in inclusive settings may be challenged to broaden their knowledge of technology to accom-modate the special needs of learners in their classrooms, or learning dis-abilities teachers might be asked to assist the classroom teacher in help-ing a child who is using an AT device become part of an instructional group. Preservice general and special educa-tors should be trained in assistive tech-nology devices, particularly as more and more youngsters with disabilities are placed in general education set-tings for longer portions of the day. </p><p>A second trend is the pervasiveness of computers in classrooms. Educators are expected not only to set up the computer hardware but also to decide how to fit the technology into the in-structional program (Lewis, 1993). Educators must be prepared for (a) set-ting up hardware, (b) identifying the variety of roles computer technology can serve in the classroom, and (c) adapt-ing computer technology to make it accessible for students with LD. </p><p>A third trend is the increase in dif-ferent types of educational software and multimedia applications (e.g., hypermedia, CD-ROM) that exist in most schools. Educators must be able to evaluate the components, strengths, and weaknesses of software and multi-media, and to match student abilities </p><p>accordingly. For example, in some cases, a software requires reading skills even though the software purports to address another academic area, such as mathematics (Lewis, 1993). Other software may possess various stimuli that could be confusing and distract-ing to students with LD. Educators must be able to (a) identify prerequi-site academic skills in software pro-grams, and (b) make appropriate accom-modations, such as the utilization of recorded instructions or the use of peer tutoring. </p><p>Research. Results from research studies is another factor to examine in support of the development of an assistive technology curriculum for a teacher preparation program. Al-though research in this area is mostly anecdotal in nature and the number of controlled studies in AT and LD is limited, research findings are begin-ning to emerge that validate and dem-onstrate the benefits of assistive tech-nology as compensatory devices for students with LD. Specifically, re-search results have supported the use of a particular assistive technology (i.e., computerized speech feedback/speech synthesis) across school-age and post-secondary students in promoting proficiency in reading (Jones, Torge-sen, &amp; Sexton, 1987; Roth &amp; Beck, 1987) and writing (Raskind &amp; Higgins, 1995). Although continued validation re-search is warranted, results from these studies support the notion of AT as part of a teacher preparation program. </p><p>Considerable technology research in learning disabilities has focused pri-marily on the use of computer tech-nology to remediate or supplement instruction (Raskind, 1993). Although in some cases research findings have been equivocal, some notable progress has been made in validating the effi-cacy of computer-based instruction and identifying software programs and applications as effective tools to supplement and reinforce instructional practices (Higgins &amp; Boone, 1990; Mac Arthur, 1994; Olson, Foltz, &amp; Wise, 1986; Torgesen, Waters, Cohen, &amp; Tor-</p><p> at Abant Izzet Baysal University on May 13, 2014ldx.sagepub.comDownloaded from </p><p></p></li><li><p>VOLUME 31, NUMBER 1, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1998 57 </p><p>gesen, 1988). Such research has pro-vided instructors with valuable infor-mation regarding word processing programs, hypermedia, and specific software packages; however, research studies examining the efficacy of vari-ous types of assistive technology de-vices to help students compensate for specific learning disabilities must con-tinue. Such research agenda must be developed in the field. The results of this research are important; they could provide continued evidence of the need to train preservice teachers in a variety of AT compensatory devices for students with learning disabilities. Additionally, findings from this re-search could further validate the AT curriculum as beneficial for students with LD. </p><p>In summary, educational trends and research results should be examined to determine the extent to which there is a need for an assistive technology curriculum. This information can be coupled with information about the benefits of the curriculum for students with learning disabilities and about the influences of key pieces of legisla-tion to determine whether or not a need exists for the new curriculum. </p><p>Establishing Teacher Competencies and Objectives </p><p>The second step in curriculum de-sign is to delineate the competencies and objectives in assistive technology that will be important for teachers of students with LD to achieve in a teacher preparation program. Instruc-tors can identify teacher competencies by conducting surveys of consumer groups of AT devices and services; col-laborating with professionals (e.g., re-habilitation counselors, physical ther-apists, occupational therapists) who work extensively in AT service de-livery; talking with public school, postsecondary, and vocational profes-sionals who provide services to indi-viduals with LD across the life span; talking with technology professionals in state departments of education; and reviewing published competency lists </p><p>(e.g., developed by professional orga-nizations). For example, in our spe-cial education teacher preparation program at The University of Texas, we examined competencies (a) stated on syllabi that were gathered from various professors who are teaching technology courses, (b) identified by technology personnel in the local school district, and (c) recommended by professional organizations. These competencies were reviewed and des-ignated for specific courses being taught or developed by faculty who were interested in assistive technol-ogy as a component of their curricu-lum. A sample list of teacher com-petencies is provided in Table 1. The competencies include the development of knowledge and skill in the areas of computer literacy; general technology (e.g., issues, barriers and solutions); laws; learner needs; devices and ser-vices; curricular integration; environ-ment; resources; partnerships; and evaluation. These competencies are based on recommendations by the Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children (Graves et...</p></li></ul>


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