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The Role of Assistive Technology

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1 The Role of Assistive Technology
Inclusive Education The Role of Assistive Technology Ghana Education Services Special Education Division, Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, Accra, Ghana December, 2007 Mary Hooker Education Specialist Global eSchools and Communities Initiative Dublin, Ireland.

2 What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology (AT) includes a range of technologies, which enable people to build on their abilities and participate as fully as possible at home, school, work and in their community.

3 What does Assistive Technology mean?
AT is used to describe both the products and the services for people with special needs.

4 AT Products The term ‘assistive technology device’ means any item, piece of equipment, or product system (whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized) that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capability of an individual with disability.

5 AT Services The term ‘assistive technology service’ means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Individual with Disabilities Act of 1990 (IDEA) P.L

6 AT Range The AT definitions are flexible and open many possibilities for what the products and services of assistive technology can be. They do not imply that assistive technology must include computers, or that it must be expensive, or that it can only be prescribed. Assistive technology is essentially a very broad field and may range from the very simple to the very complex

7 What are the types of AT devices?
AT may be organized into a system of low-tech, medium-tech and high-tech tools and strategies that match a person’s needs, abilities and tasks. Learners/ teachers/parents pick and choose from the system the appropriate tools for the situation

8 Low-tech refers to unsophisticated devices and largely non-electronic devices, many of which can be produced from local materials, such as: pencil grips book holders texture boards reading stands educational toys and games

9 Low-tech cut-out pictures jigsaw puzzles sign language natural gesture
facial expression body language bowl

10 Medium-tech devices are more complicated, many of which can be manufactured locally, such as : hearing aids speech trainers Braille paper and styluses tape recorders magnifying reading glasses

11 High-tech devices involve the use of sophisticated communication and environmental control systems that are electronically based. increasing variety of methods of adapting the computer through the use of special needs peripherals and/or software

12 Peripherals Some keyboard alternatives
Input or Output devices Other non-standard devices Benefits Keyboard Concept Keyboards Physical, visual and cognitive access Overlays allow for pre-programmed, words, symbols, pictures Additional features include key guards, alternative overlays, switch access Large keyboard Keys that are up to four times the size of standard computer keys Can be useful for students with visual difficulties or limited hand function. Available in multi-colour, plain white, ABC or Qwerty format. Some have speech feedback, permitting students to talk and work at the same time.

13 Peripherals Some screen alternatives/enhancers
Input or Output devices Other non-standard device Benefits Screen Touch screen Ideal for students who cannot understand the relationship between the mouse or the keyboard and movement on the screen. Instead of using a pointing device such as a mouse, the student can use their finger to point directly to objects on the screen. Also suitable for those who find it hard to manipulate a mouse or other pointing devices. Braille display Replaces the computer monitor and is often augmented with Speech Output Systems A line of Braille cells gives a tactile representation of the computer’s text output

14 Peripherals Some pointing options
Input or Output device Other non-standard device Benefits Pointing devices Roller balls Stationary, requires little operating space Slows down movement of cursor buttons Joysticks Students with limited hand function can find them easier to use Dampens down random motion s the movement of the pointer will be less erratic Switches Can be operated by any area of the body (e.g. hand head) Allows user to operate a computer or other electrical device Touch pad Alternative to conventional mouse Useful for people with fine finger control but lack gross movements

15 Software categories Software Benefits Concerns
Reinforcement (drill and practice) Helps develop skills and reinforce concepts and knowledge Provides practice on learned skills Gives immediate feedback/ non judgemental Should complement teaher instruction, not replace it Skills are often presented in isolation from classroom themes and planning Interactive books Electronic books which bring stories to life Cater for a range of levels (Non-readers to older students with reading difficulties Links written word with spoken words Gives students opportunity to practice reading same text more than one time Edutainment value v Educational value

16 Content-free software
Benefits Content free software allows teachers to design own content - text and graphics Can be used in many areas of the curriculum Teachers can develop materials to meet individual needs of students Help students overcome barriers to learning Word Processing Programmes enable production of a wide range of products Student can express themseles Spellchecker allows concentraion on content Relieves pressures that face students with learning dfficulties Talking Word Processing Programmes include in-build speech synthesizer Allows students to monitor their work Brings writing to life - auditory feedback links written word to spoken word Auditory feedback assists students in correcting spelling, grammar and syntax

17 Content-free software
Benefits Word Prediction Software runs in conjunction with word processor and suggests words as text is entered - as soon as a user types first letter of a word, a list of words beginning with that letter appear Suggests words so students can concentrate on context rather tan spelling Remembers words that student uses most frequently Word Bank Programmes allow the teacher to input lists of words the student has particular difficulty with - topic words, lists of nuns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, sentence starters etc. Teacher can choose words that individual students have difficulty with Students can concentrate on context rather than spelling

18 Content-free software
Benefits Planning and organising software helps struggling students visually organise their ideas - can be used for brainstorming, outlining, prewriting, diagramming and concept webbing. Ideal for students who think in pictures rather than words (visual learners) Spellchecker allows concentration on content Relieves pressures that face students with learning difficulties Desktop Publishing/Art & Design Applications include a wide range of writing and drawing tools that can be used to draw a picture, write a story, create a newsletter etc. Individualise for students by adding or removing tools Professional results help struggling students gain confidence

19 Software categories Software Benefits
Study Skills Software assists students in developing the necessary skills needed for efficient study Enables students to independently develop their own organisation and study skills strategies Provides students with direct instruction and practice in developing these skills Assessment software used to assess student attainment and identify learning difficulties Can be helpful in early identification of learning difficulties including dyslexia Results can be used to individualize instruction and develop individual education plans Progress can be monitored on a regular basis

20 Access tools software Optical Character Recognition Programmes
Reads a text on a page Converts it to digital format Scan/Read software Allow scanning from any book Display on-screen version of printed material Screen readers Read back text from any programme Highlight text as spoken Read downloaded pages from internet, s, text scanned Screen magnification systems Increases size of text or image displayed on the monitor Only prt of the screen can be seen at any one time Voice recognition software Allows dictation of written assignments, notes etc. Vocabulary must be developed for software by the user Switch Access Software Used by many students with physical disabilities who are unable to use a mouse or keyboard due to limited manual control

21 Accessibility All OS have built-in options to support students with special needs Options allow user to adjust keyboard response, mouse movement and screen appearance Features have been designed to support the needs of those with hearing, visual, physical/motor and learning difficulties Before looking at specialised solutions, check accessibility built-in options for effective utilization

22 AT not a fix for impairment
Pupil's impairment should be accepted as normal to that person Technology attempts to provide an alternative or compensatory approach that works around the impairment AT sometimes called work-around technology

23 AT and Inclusive Education
AT will be more likely accepted if it is seen to contribute to the achievement of relevant and identified educational goals Goals should be set in accordance with individual’s needs, differences and abilities Learner may need support to achieve goals at a slower pace AT interventions should not create unrealistic expectations of what learner can achieve Information on AT sourced principally from the Irish National Centre for Technology in Education NCTE website – and Bassi, 2007

24 AT Utilization and Production Lynch, 2007
How are they used? Can we generalise them across disability? Use symbols for hearing impaired and learning disabilities or speech conditions? How easy is it to make them? Who should make them?

25 AT and Curriculum Access Lynch, 2007
How can AT help children with disabilities access the curriculum? E.g. Braille books, large print, symbols, increasing font size on the page, using low vision aids to read books.

26 AT, Assessment and IEPs Lynch, 2007
Planning where AT can be used to help a child learn. What are the implications of assessing a child and recommending AT if none are available?

27 Low-tech V high-tech Low-tech solutions often more effective and easily integrated High-tech solutions have enormous potential, yet require careful assessment/ judgement for ‘fit’ with individual require considerable specialist training and support to be effective can be prohibitively expensive

28 ICT Based Solutions for SEN in Ghana Casely-Hayford and Lynch, 2003
Capacity Building Build capacity for the Material Resource Centre Accra to become a key institution for the supply of AT into both mainstream schools and special schools Develop capacity for AT production in Ghana by firms in the country in the form of: low to medium-cost materials development beyond Braille books equipment to assist children with physical disabilities

29 ICT Based Solutions for SEN in Ghana Casely-Hayford and Lynch, 2003
Resources Centres and Special Schools Establish fully equipped and staffed assessment centres outside of Accra, and Kumasi. Provide all of the 110 teacher resource centres in every district in Ghana with AT and technical advice in order to assist teachers. Special schools and institutions should be restricted to children diagnosed as having a Profound/Multiple Learning Disabilities.

30 ICT Based Solutions for SEN in Ghana Casely-Hayford and Lynch, 2003
Itinerant teachers Build capacity of graduates in special education as itinerant teachers to school clusters in the districts where mainstreaming is intensively being focussed to support individual students to work with whole classes, classroom and teachers.

31 ICT Based Solutions for SEN in Ghana Lynch, 2007
Another example of a recent initiative between Sightsavers and Dolphin to produce a screen-reader on a USB that third-level students can use on any PC. I think a few students at the University of Ghana are using these USP pens.

32 ICT Based Solutions for SEN in Ghana Casely-Hayford and Lynch, 2003
On-line Support Develop ODL training for University and teacher training college levels on the fundamentals and implementation of assistive technologies Link with free online courses such as the NCTE, Ireland which has 7 online courses of 20 hours each for ICT & Special Needs: The Basics Learning Support Mild Learning Disabilities Moderate/Severe/ Profound Learning Disabilities Deaf/Hard of Hearing Introduction to ICT and Visual Impairments Autistic Spectrum Disorders

33 ICT Based Solutions for SEN in Ghana Casely-Hayford and Lynch, 2003
Special Courses Train teachers in Assistive Technology usage through regular training programmes organised by the SpED with the support of outside agencies Call on private sector ICT training companies to provide initial In-Service training in how to use computer software to teach or supplement curriculum areas in SEN

34 ICT Based Solutions for SEN in Ghana Casely-Hayford and Lynch, 2003
Community Based Rehabilitation The Integrated Education Project (IEP) was set up by Sight Savers, Ghana in collaboration with the SpED and the Ghana Society for the Blind (GSB) Programme success generated through the Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) model: funds for an itinerant teacher to visit the school provision of free classroom materials (e.g. books in Braille) and regular eye treatment capacity building to enhance teacher skills in monitoring and evaluating progress

35 Technical knowledge on how to use it
Issues around AT Cost Technical knowledge on how to use it Level of support, loss and breakage.

36 AT provision where there are few resources – 3 approaches
As special schools become decongested, develop a new role for the schools as outreach centres of advice and ideas for teachers in ordinary schools – Centres with dedicated staff who have theoretical knowledge and practical expertise in the areas of curriculum, assessment and teaching methods in special education and the development, utilization and monitoring of AT technologies (Special School Approach). Twinomugisha, 2007

37 AT provision where there are few resources – 3 approaches
Develop a decentralized dedicated network of resource centres or special units linked to regular schools or school cluster zones (Resource Centre Network Approach) Twinomugisha, 2007

38 AT provision where there are few resources – 3 approaches
Developing a full IE setting where the AT is deployed in the regular classroom (School Based Approach). Twinomugisha, 2007

39 AT provision where there are few resources – 3 approaches
A combined approach? Twinomugisha, 2007

40 References Bassi, R How can ICT help people with disabilities? Dublin: GeSCI (Internal document) Casely-Hayward, L. and Lynch, P A Review of Good Practice in ICT and Special Educational Needs for Africa. London: Imfundo/DFID Enabling Technology. (Homepage). [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 21 October 2007] Individuals with Disabilities Act 1997 [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 14 November 2007] Morrison, K Implementation of assistive computer technology: A model for school systems. International Journal of Special Education. 22 (1), pp83-95 National Centre for Technology in Education [Online]. Available from: from[Accessed 14 November 2007] Twinomugisha, A. 26 November Re: Financing IE where there are few resources. Educationist Group [Online Discussion List]. Available from: Gesci [Accessed 28 November 2007] UNESCO Press Conference on Inclusive Technologies for Persons with Disabilities [Online]. Available from UNESCO <> [Accessed 20 October 2007]

41 Resources Group discussion 1
The topic of resources is a very emotive one when inclusion is being discussed. Many people argue that they ‘cannot do inclusive education because we do not have enough resources’. What are the resource barriers to inclusion? What resources do we have within ourselves and our communities? CBR, Special Schools, National, District and School Cluster Resource Centres What is needed? What are the options? How can they source funding through the Education Sector Plan?

42 Resources Group Discussion 2 Case Study Kwame is 7 has low vision, goes to local school, unable to see blackboard, finds it difficult to read normal size print, enjoys maths, etc. Work out a plan on the use of Assistive Technology that helps Kwame integrate into the class.

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