In the always-demanding world for teachers, it can be overwhelming considering how to best reach our students with disabilities. There are many strains of possible disabilities students may have, and each strain requires different accommodations. On top of the already heavy workload of a teacher, many teachers don't have the time or energy it takes to do the research and then implement the latest and greatest accommodations. However, it IS important. It IS worthwhile. Even more so than we teachers might realize.
According to the United States Assistive Technology Act of 1998, assistive technology (also called adaptive technology ) refers to any "product, device, or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that is used to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." Finding ways to allow all students to communicate and interact with learning is crucial. According to an article on iansyt.com, there are 5 reasons why the assistive technologies of today are important. They are the following:
ccording to the Universal Design Learning: Meeting Needs of All Students, "The UDL framework provides a flexible, responsive curriculum that reduces or eliminates barriers to learning. Using a UDL approach, SLPs and other educators offer curriculum options that present information and content in varied ways, differentiate the manner in which learners can express what they know, and engage students in meaningful, authentic learning. With UDL, more students are:
By teaching to the marginal students' needs, or the students who are below or above the average achievement level, it actually benefits the entire classroom. That's right, ALL students grow. This one change to curriculum design and the way teachers think about the "how" of teaching, can not only significantly strengthen their students with disabilities, but every other student as well.
This is the simple answer for teachers: in order to benefit 100% of the students in your classroom, you can learn to design teaching for the marginal students by utilizing the UDL principles.
When the gains are this great, the extra work is worth it. But it's nice when the extra work is made lighter. The UDL Center website provides many resources and checkpoints for integration. By exploring and putting some effort into tweaking the curriculum we teach, we will have an almost too-good-to-be-true opportunity to benefit all our under-achieving, over-achieving, and elusive "average" student.
The Ted Talk by Ted Rose called The Myth of the Average changed my life. Designing a classroom learning environment for the "average" student is not effective. The only and best way to design a classroom is for the ends, or the marginal students. One way to accomplish this is by integrating UDL strategies into our teaching.
Top five benefits of assistive technology in education. (2014, July 17). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.iansyst.co.uk/news/assistive-technology/top-five-benefits-of-assistive-technology-in-education/801736048
UDL Examples and Resources. (2014, June 11). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.udlcenter.org/implementation/examples
Universal Design for Learning: Meeting the Needs of All Students. (2017, September 06). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/universal-design-learning-meeting-needs-all-students