Here I am starting a new chapter in tutorials - this one is all about assisstive technology. As I write this, I am being assisted by the use of Spell Check, and I am grateful for the help. When I received my teaching degree in 2006, I fully expected to be using my degree in Special Education to work with students with disabilities. To my surprise, the school district that I chose to work for placed me in a regular education classroom. Here I am daily confronted with the reality that most of my students have special needs of one type or another, and that the pace in my classroom is expected to be "regular", if not academically rigorous. So, while I am familiar with the experience of adapting my lessons and centers to a variety of skill levels, much has changed on the technology front even since I graduated from school.
I teach second grade. Currently, I have one child from the life skills room who attends part of each day in my classroom. Bruce has a "talking box" that we call a Mo. It has several screens that, if he touches a picture on any of them, will do his talking for him. The phrases are rudimentary, but since Bruce is extremely limited in his speech, it gives all of us a good idea of what he wants. Early in the school year, Bruce's aid and I introduced the Mo to our classroom so that everyone would know what Bruce had and what it does.
Similarly, if I needed to teach Braille to my students, I would introduce it whole class. Hopefully the student who uses it would be proficient enough to demonstrate how this works and why it is important to know. After showing some of the letters and combining those letters to make words, I would have the children practice using Braille in pairs. This would lend itself well to my elementary aged group because of the tactile nature of Braille. After some practice, we would use our new knowledge to interpret some Braille literature. To continue to reinforce the skill, I would have a Braille center that each child would rotate through on a biweekly basis.
In reviewing The National Center for Learning Disabilities website, I clicked on most of the links to see if there was new information out there for me. As a teacher of emergent readers, I often am part of the diagnostic process when a child has a learning disability, and as part of a team of educators, I have access to many modifications and ideas about assisting these children in a regular classroom. The information I saw on this website reflected current thinking, but it was more general in each area than the information that I have been working with. I would use this more to expose or introduce educators to the types of needs they may experience int heir classrooms.