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Technology and Disability communicates knowledge about the field of assistive technology devices and services, within the context of the lives of end users - persons with disabilities and their family members. While the topics are technical in nature, the articles are written for broad comprehension despite the reader's education or training.
Technology and Disability's contents cover research and development efforts, education and training programs, service and policy activities and consumer experiences.
The term Technology refers to assistive devices and services.
- The term Disability refers to both permanent and temporary functional limitations experienced by people of any age within any circumstance.
- The term and underscores the editorial commitment to seek for articles which see technology linked to disability as a means to support or compensate the person in daily functioning.
The Editor also attempts to link the themes of technology and disability through the selection of appropriate basic and applied research papers, review articles, case studies, programme descriptions, letters to the Editor and commentaries. Suggestions for thematic issues and proposed manuscripts are welcomed.
Abstract: For students with severe disabilities, inclusion in the regular education classroom requires much more than physical accommodation. Curricular accommodation is needed to provide meaningful roles in group activities and an engaging and meaningful set of learning experiences. Communication enhancements, where needed, are crucial to participation by students with severe communication disorders. Technological advances that empower the average citizen are also available to enhance the educational experience of every student with special needs. Technology use in the classroom, however, can be a complex and disruptive innovation for many teachers. The use of technology that enables teachers to individualize instruction for…students with disabilities, to enhance their ability to communicate, and to participate more fully in classroom activities is accompanied by barriers to easy and practical everyday use (Mason, Tanaka, and Lian, 1987; Parker, et al., 1990). Furthermore, for students with severe disabilities who may depend heavily upon the reliability and availability of the technologies they use, any disruption of equipment use may result in a serious disruption of their instructional program. This study of 28 teachers of students with severe disabilities identified student use of technology in the classroom and barriers to effective use. Among the barriers identified were the lack of a reliable source of power, the lack of mobility of technologies, the cost of and access to the technology, the difficulty of maintaining systems in good repair, and the lack of curricular outcomes that consistently include the use of technology. The authors suggest some procedures for minimizing or overcoming barriers to technology use for students with severe disabilities.
Keywords: Technology, inclusion, severe disabilities, barriers, computer
Abstract: The computer is the most powerful reinforcer available in the schools for the majority of students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Software typically used by nondisabled students can be implemented by creative teachers to support behavior change and emotional growth in students. For students with behavior problems, the computer can serve as an effective motivator, provide opportunities for cooperative learning, offer social and leisure time pursuits, and provide students the tools to engage in self-monitoring activities. For students with emotional problems, the computer can facilitate self-expression, assist in determining effective learning strategies, and build self-esteem. For students with behavioral self-control…problems, the computer can provide training in impulse control and offer practice in problem solving skills and simulated social skills situations. This article describes promising practices for integrating the computer into therapeutic instruction for these students and provides specific suggestions for implementation.
Abstract: RESNA, an interdisciplinary association for the advancement of rehabilitation and assistive technologies has engaged in a number of activities to assist in the development of consumer-responsive systems of technology-related services. This paper provides information for parents and professionals on how to incorporate assistive technology into an individualized education program for children and youth with disabilities. The inclusion of assistive technology to achieve educational goals adds a new dimension resulting in increased independence and participation in life environments.
Keywords: Assistive technology, special education, IEP, least restrictive environment, inclusion
Abstract: Computers have revolutionized our approach in assisting individuals with disabilities. With the appropriate computer system and support services, an individual incapable of physical movement below the neck can write, send messages, answer the phone, and control lights and appliances in the home, school, or work setting. An individual who is blind can read books, prepare text documents, take notes in class, and prepare homework assignments. How does a person with a severe vision or physical impairment determine the appropriate computer system? This article discusses the knowledge and skills required to make decisions in selecting computer systems for individuals with disabilities.…An Assistive Technology Team approach is presented and discussed.
Keywords: Assistive technology, student with disability, computer, assessment, team
Abstract: This article argues that traditional modes of instruction have not succeeded with mildly disabled students, and that computer and videodisk-based technology combined with an anchored instruction approach is a potentially powerful tool to enhance the social studies and literacy learning of these students.
Abstract: The goal of this article is to show how technology can be integrated into an I-Search Unit to support students with learning disabilities in mainstream, middle school classes. The article has three major sections. The first section provides an overview of an I-Search Unit; an inquiry-based interdisciplinary curriculum unit that has four phases. In Phase I, students become immersed in the unit's theme (such as ecology or justice) that is socially relevant and personally motivating to early adolescents. In this phase, they engage in varied activities to elicit prior knowledge and to build background knowledge. Students pose personally meaningful I-Search…questions to investigate by the end of the phase. In Phase II, students develop a search plan that details how they will gather information by reading books, magazines, newspapers, reference materials; watching videos, filmstrips; interviewing people or conducting surveys; or carrying out experiments, doing simulations, or going on field trips. In Phase III, they gather and integrate information. Phase IV involves writing an I-Search Report that has the following sections: My Search Question, My Search Process, What I Learned, What This Means to Me, and References. The second section will show how a rich variety of technology applications can be integrated into an I-Search Unit to help students with disabilities to: • gather information • organize, analyze, and relate information • convey what they have learned One technology application, the Search Organizer, is currently under development at Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). Running on the Macintosh Power-Book, the goal of this software is to provide scaffolding to students through the four phases of the I-Search Unit. The third section will present case materials illustrating how students with disabilities actually used technology to successfully participate in an I-Search Unit being implemented across regular education classes. The illustrative examples are drawn from middle schools around the country who are working with the Education Development Center as part of research and training projects.
Abstract: A comprehensive discussion of the practical elements of instructional hypermedia suggested by research, such as content and format of strategies for improving vocabulary, comprehension, and study skills is provided. An easy-to-use public domain software package for authoring hypermedia instruction that was developed by the authors, Boone and Higgins, is discussed and is available to readers by mail. This authoring system provides special education teachers with the capability to create sophisticated computer-based instruction that supports and enhances the existing curriculum of the classroom. This “site-based” approach to instructional software gives back to teachers and students the control of their teaching and…learning.
Abstract: Integrated programs promote social skill development for children with disabilities. Environments promoting social interactions between children are necessary to facilitate such development. The following study demonstrates that the combination of two environments, the community-based preschool classroom and the computer, results in an increase in positive peer-to-peer interactions, higher social participation, and more verbal initiations by children with disabilities. Social interactions of young children with disabilities were measured while using computers with nondisabled peers. A rotating “focal-child” observation system was used to study the effect, of interventions on five children with disabilities within the mainstreamed preschool setting. Four specific behaviors…were scored during interactions using interval recordings. An intrasubject replication design was employed within a multiple treatment reversal form. Results support the validity of the computer procedures as ones which enhance social interaction rates of young children with disabilities. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Keywords: Early childhood, integration, social skills, computers, preschoolers/disabilities
Abstract: This article describes the approach of the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP) for promoting change at the local level in the use of technology, media, and materials (TMM) for students with disabilities. This approach includes: (1) Text-based and multimedia “Practice Packages”; (2) NCIP InfoNet, an electronic network with resource library and discussion forums; (3) Videoconferences; and (4) Technical assistance in using the materials. A case study of a hypothetical change agent is presented to illustrate the comprehensive and dynamic approach of the NCIP.
Keywords: Technology, disabilities, organizational support, school change, change agent, telecommunications