Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week #10 - Module #1

First, I am so pleased to at last be receiving some direct instruction on the subject of assistive technology. When I earned my undergraduate degree I was not required to take any special education courses to graduate and I regret not having taken any as electives. Thankfully, since I graduated in 1995, the requirements have changed and all education majors must take some special education coursework.

Nevertheless, when I entered the teaching profession and my classroom I taught many multiple, and severly learning disabled students. Some were even physically disabled. I guess you could say I recieved a crash course in figuring out how to intergrate their needs into the class's objectives in subject areas from math, reading and science to time on the playground, during the class play and field trips. Working with these students proved to be an extraordinary experience and taught me to always plan ahead and be considerate of all learning styles.

I especially liked reading about the concept of universal design. This was the first I have heard of it and feel strongly that its aims are for the betterment of all people and their compassion towards those with differences.

Now to focus in on the task at hand.

I took quite a bit of time to explore the National Federation of the Blind. I found myself thinking of Annie Sullivan teaching Helen Keller. I adore the story of the Miracle Worker and often marvel at the Sullivan's persistance to reach Helen and teach her to teach herself. If I were confronted with a similar, albeit smaller challenge, to welcome a blind student into my classroom I would do the following things to prepare myself and my students:

  • label items in the classroom with braille
  • invite a guest speaker to meet with students so that they may have a question and answer session
  • permit time for my students and myself to learn Braille
  • create activities that challenges students to use other senses in place of their vision ie: name that tune
  • challenge students to think creatively to find tasks and strategies that can be done successfully without using their sight
  • take time for daily read alouds
  • auditory cues to begin new tasks or showcase a particular behavior
  • find ways to showcase the student as an individual separate from his disability
I am sure there are more considerations I would have to make, but these were the first that came to mind.

Job Accomodation Network was another new find for me. I think their initiative should be valued by school systems for the sake of the students as well as their faculty, staff and administrations. There are many teachers who have disabilites and are effective at what they do. They serve as remarkable role models for their students. On this site they had a terrifc page that listed all kinds of disabilites, links to possible modifications, and best of all links to companies that sell products to make it easier to integrate modifications to improve the quality of the learning environment for the individual student. What a great resource!


  1. I agree. I have degrees in English and Elementary Education but little training in working with disabled students. Now, my school has recommended me for work with a Special Education teacher in 3 of my last 5 years, and I have always wanted more information in this area.