Monday, June 29, 2015

Review of Literature: Evaluating and Selecting Appropriate AT

A Review of Literature:
Evaluating and Selecting Appropriate Assistive Technology
Cari McKee
University of New Haven
ITDML; ED 7724

Assistive technology is defined as “any device, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability” (Beard, 2011).  For some students, Assistive Technology is the only way one can be successful in the education process.  In the 2011-2012 school year, research was collected to evaluate the students in our school systems.  The data provided our school communities with research of how many students were physically or mentally disabled.  These students showed they needed assistance in order to be successful in our current school systems.  The research showed over 6,000 students have disabilities and require some type of assistive technology in school systems (U.S., 2013).  With this many students needing assistance, assistive technology is considered as the main source to help our students be successful.  The 21st century suggests technology integration can help enhance learning in our classroom settings. Assistive technology are tools to help students be successful and given the ability to do “normal” activities. Depending on the student's needs, types of devices provided, and support within the school community can determine which type of device is best fit for each student.  Assistive technology can be low tech or high tech devices used in the classroom to help assistive students from a wide variety of disabilities be successful.  There are many different types of assistive technology assisting our students currently; however, more technology can be incorporated into our school systems to help meet the “no child left behind” standard of education (Raskind, 2000).  Although technology can help our students be successful, there are also negatives when selecting an appropriate assistive technology for each individual. This review will look at various research articles and address these advantages and disadvantages as well as give some suggestions when choosing an assistive technology device.  The review will also provide information on how to properly evaluating different types of technology to help students in the classroom experiencing disabilities.
In the article, Assistive Technology for Individuals with Disabilities: A review and synthesis of the literature, Alper discusses the Assistive Technology Act of 1998.  The act addressed the students needs with different types of assistive technology in education.  The Assistive Technology Act is intended to protect students who were in need of devices in the classroom.  When devices are properly implemented into the classroom for the appropriate individuals, the devices have shown evidence with helping students increase their self esteem (Alper, 2006).  The proper implementation of technology also allowed students to live independently.  Confidence was built through the support of each assistive technology device allowing students less need for assistance from other individuals during certain tasks.  From there the students became capable in pursuing meaningful careers.  The devices also helped students create and mature their own identity which otherwise might have been lost.  Many students do not have the privilege to integrate technology into their classroom even if it is assistive technology (Kelker, 1997) due to many barriers.
Alper suggests some of the reasons why technology has been a downfall in the classroom. Alper also discusses how technology is not available to all students for various reasons.  Some of these reasons include high equipment cost can hinders schools systems to provide all of their students with proper assistive technology.  A lack of information and knowledge about different assistive technology devices can also deter school systems from implementing assistive technology into the classroom.  Support is a necessary component to incorporating success assistive technology devices to the students and into the necessary classrooms.  Without the support, proper introduction and use of assistive technology devices cannot be as successful as if the support was not in place.
In order to properly evaluate assistive technology, there are many things one need to take into consideration.  First, the individual student must be properly evaluated.  Once properly evaluated, the group should identify a need of the student.  The students needs must be taken into consideration before an assistive technology device can be taken into account.  Secondly, the student’s physical and mental ability needs to also be considered when choosing the proper assistive technology device (Kelker, 1997).  It is imperative there is proper support from the family as well as the school community.  Providing individuals with the proper support should play a major role when selecting the type of assistive technology device for each student.  Once the students has been thoroughly evaluated through an IEP or PPT, next the device itself should be evaluated before considered in being implemented into the students school success program (Raskind, 2000).  
There are different types of devices with various functioning capacities used for various types of students.  Depending on the device function, cost of assistive technology, support of those involved, and background knowledge can help determine the type of device chosen for each student (Facilitated).  In recent years, many studies have been done addressing how to properly implement devices into the classroom.  The studies also take a look at the types of devices and the effectiveness of each  assistive technology incorporated into the current classrooms. In order to have a successful integration of assistive technology, one must have effective teaching strategies as well as the knowledge of the device (Raskind, 2000).  In order to be an effective teacher one must have proper instruction.  Incorporating collaboration while challenging students can help increase knowledge and participation in the classroom.  Classroom management needs to be a priority as well as appropriate technology use.  Lastly, if used properly, technology can support and increase success in the classroom for all students. Each teacher should be well equipped to understand the devices used in their classrooms.  Each student should be able to integrate the device in the classroom; however, it is not solely the student's responsibility to properly manage the device.  The teacher and surrounding students play an intricate role when using the device for success in the classroom.
Assistive technology has a variety of different types offered.  Each device is out into categories based on the amount of technology used with the device.  These two categories are known as high tech and low tech assistive technology (Beard, 2011).  Assistive technology  is any item or piece of equipment that is used to “increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life, including at school, at work, at home and in the community” (Assistive).  Low tech devices do not require an extensive amount of training.  The equipment is usually cheaper and less complex when it comes to the use of the device.  Some examples of low tech devices are as follows:
    • Magnifiers
    • Large text
    • Graphs
    • Canes and walkers
    • Task cards
Low tech devices are can be as simple as task cards, organizers, and light pens (Assistive). All of these device can help high functioning students with disabilities more successful in the classroom setting.  For students who need help organizational skills or are visual learners, low tech devices can be useful to help structure their thoughts. High Tech devices are generally more complex pieces of equipment or programs.  The devices are usually digitally based and therefore more expensive (Tools).  Most of the high tech devices do require an extensive amount of training and therefore can deter school systems and teachers to reject them in their classrooms.  Below are some examples of high tech devices that can assist students in the classroom.
    • Wheelchairs/scooters
    • Hearing aids
    • Audiobooks
    • Communication devices with voices
High tech devices can also include but are not limited to Smart boards, amplifiers, audio pens and audiobooks (Kelker, 1997). Kidspiration is an example of a high tech assistive technology program used to help assist students with visual recognition and awareness.  Whether a student needs high tech or low tech devices, each one must be evaluated and considered before it is brought into the classroom.
In conclusion, assistive technology is providing our students with opportunities they might not otherwise have.  In order to effectively provide the students with the proper assistive technology one must evaluate the types of device needed.  Once the proper assistive technology is decided upon, successful implementation comes through support of both the school community and the families alike.  Assistive technology can be an effective tool for many of our students.  Assistive technology can also hinder some of our students if it is not effectively evaluated and implemented correctly.  Therefore, time and device consideration must be contemplated before it is introduced to the students.
  1. Alper, S., & Raharinirina, S. (2006). Assistive technology for individuals with disabilities: A review and synthesis of the literature. Journal of Special Education Technologies, 21(2), 47-64.
  2. Assistive Technology Assessment - Find the Right Tools. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2015, from  
  3. Beard, L. A., Carpenter, L. B., & Johnston, L. B. (2011). Assistive technology: Access for all students (2nd/3rd ed.). Toronto: Pearson Education.
  4. Facilitated_Communication_Prisoners_of_Silence. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2015, from  
  5. Kelker, K. A., & Holt, R. (1997). Family guide to assistive technology. Billings, MT: Parents Let’s Unite for Kids.
  6. Raskind, M. (2000). Assistive technology for children with learning difficulties (2nd ed.). San Mateo, CA: Schwab Foundation for Learning.  
  7. Tools for Life. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2015, from
  8. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Digest of Education Statistics, 2013 (NCES 2015-011),Chapter 2.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Course Project

Here is my Google Slide Presentation for my Course Project on How Technology Can Support Project Based Learning.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

AT Request to Springfield College

Dear Vicki Anderson,
My name is Cari McKee.  I am a prospective student who will be attending Springfield College in the Fall 2015.  I am writing to you because I have difficulty in the classroom setting due to a disability and would like to request assistive technology to ensure my success in your program.   I lost my sight when I was four years old and have been receiving assistance throughout my schooling.
Some of the programs that have assisted me previously are speech recognition programs.  I have used various programs throughout my education.  One program that worked well for me is ViaVoice and taped text.  I understand you currently have a speech recognition program called Dragon Naturally-Speaking.  I would like to request the use of the program to help with my academic performance.  Taped text would also help benefit my success at Springfield College because it will allow me to tape and replay the information for later use.  Currently, I have difficulty comprehending material due to my disability and value to ability to tape the class material to use for later.  Speech recognition software such as taped text and Dragon Naturally-Speaking would assist me with replaying information.
I am also aware you have an adaptive sports program at your school.  I understand your university values the development of the whole person with mind body and spirit development.  Based on your values, I strongly believe getting involved in the adaptive sports program can allow me to grow through the academics but also develop as a whole.  Some low tech assistive technology I have used in the past are bells to help me recognize the direction of the task.  For example, in a throwing activity, a simple bell can help direct me to where the ball needs to be thrown.  
I am thankful for your consideration with helping me receive the proper assistive technology necessary for my success at your institution.  I look forward to hearing from you and attending your program in the Fall.

Cari McKee
Class of 2019

Monday, June 15, 2015

Survey with a Special Education Teacher

Interview with a Special Education Teacher
7724- Week 11

I decided to interview one of the special education teachers in my school.  Although a little bitter, I believe she has every right to be.  Unfortunately, in our school we are expected to implement technology as well as assistive technology without formal training. I was very surprised with the response shown below because the special education teacher should be the one receiving formal training.

1:  How often do you use Low-tech assistive technology such as pencil grips, highlighters, etc.
  • Daily
  • 3-4 times/week
  • 1-2 times/week
  • Less than once a week
  • never

2:  How often do you use High-tech assistive technology such as audio-books, speech-to-text, screen-reader, etc…
  • Daily
  • 3-4 times/week
  • 1-2 times/week
  • Less than once a week
  • never

3:  Is the Low-tech assistive technology that you have used effective, in your opinion?
  • sometimes
  • no
  • n/a

4:  Is the High-tech assistive technology that you have used effective, in your opinion?
  • yes
  • sometimes
  • Definitely not
  • n/a

5:  What are some factors that hinder the use of assistive technology, in your opinion?
I do not use assistive technology as much as I should because I have not received any training on it. Although we have some of these tools in my classroom I was not shown how to truly use them nor have I been given the time to “play” with them.  How am I expected to use something I am completely unfamiliar with? I use items that have been working for years and I am comfortable with.

6:  What are some factors that facilitate/encourage the use of assistive technology, in your opinion?
Support.  Support is a huge factor that can either help or hinder the implementation of assistive technology in teachers classrooms.  In my case, I do not use it as often because I am uncomfortable with it.  Other teachers I know use technology much more in their classroom because they have the background knowledge of it or they are given time during their department meetings to play with the product.  During our department meetings we discuss issues and are given time to work on our paperwork, not play with programs.

7:  What training, if any have you had on various High/Low tech devices and/or different ways to utilize those devices?
Image CC from
Unfortunately, that is the problem.  I have been shown how to use Google Classroom, and the Google products because that is the type of school we are.  I also use my smart board frequently.  In regards to high tech resources to help my students, I have not received any formal training.  I think my students suffer because of it.

Flanagan’s article states, “Teachers’ use and understanding of AT may increase when effective instruction is provided during pre service preparation or professional developments.”  Unfortunately the teacher I interviewed did not have effective instruction because she believed it was unattainable without proper training.  The article does state a barrier to using assistive technology due to lack of knowledge and types of devices. After reading the article, I believe the ideas of the person I interviewed are similar to those described.  Both the article and the special education teacher pointed out some downfalls of why people choose not/can not use assistive technology in the classrooms.  Both the article and special education teacher stated support was needed in order to effectively use assistive technology in classrooms.  They also stated how the support needs to come not only from the parents, students, and teachers but also from the administrative staff.

  1. Flanagan, S., Bouck, E., & Richardson, J. (n.d.). Middle School Special Education Teachers’ Perceptions and Use of Assistive Technology in Literacy Instruction. Assistive Technology, 24-30.  
  2. Lindsey-Glenn, P. F., & Gentry, J. E. (2008). Improving vocabulary skills through assistive technology: Rick’s story. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 5(2) Article 1. Retrieved [date] from

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

21st Century Learning

Each and every day our world around us is constantly changing.  Something as simple as taking notes in school has developed into e-notes through various programs such as Google Docs and Evernote.  21st century learning is responsible for the change in our classroom as well as the environment around us.  So what are 21st century skills and what exactly is 21st century learning?  Why is it important for our students to do this?
Let me start by saying our world is constantly changing.  Technology has taken a forefront in our existing world to make our everyday chores seem easier.  For example, ten years ago cell phones still were not a necessity.  But what happens now if you forget your cell phone at home?  Do you feel lost from the world maybe even disconnected?  21st century learning involves our students in the learning process and puts them in the heart of the learning rather than the students feeling disconnected through lectures.  21st century learning requires the students to reflect, analyze, apply, and critically think about situations.  The idea of 21st century learning reminds me of a phrase my mother used to tell me when I was studying for a test, “teach it to someone.  By teaching the material to someone you can learn the information much better than looking at words on a piece of paper.”  By my mother’s phrase of “teaching” the information to someone, she required me to apply the information I was taught and give meaning to it by explaining it to someone else.  21st century learning has similar principles.  There are many words to explain 21st century skills.  Some of these phrases are problem solving, critical thinking, analyze, create, reflect, synthesize, collaboration, and student centered learning.
So what is the importance of each skill and which are the top priorities to me and in schools today?  Below is a review of each skill:
·       Technology Skills: The ability to understand and use technology to apply the information learned.  Students work with new programs to showcase the information learned and apply the information through various technological programs.
·       Critical Thinking: The ability for students to analyze a topic and “look deeper” at the meaning rather than just the definition.  The students must be able to critique the information and provide evidence on the importance of the material.
·       Problem Solving: the ability to look at possible solution and develop a well thought out solution for the problem based on the anticipated outcomes.  The students will be able to identify the positives and negatives of a situation and be able to address the issues to conclude a reasonable response and solution.
·       Creativity: The ability to use their imagination to develop a program, activity or response based on all the information at hand.  The students will be able to develop an “out of the box” response to a certain situation to make the material more meaningful to them and other students.
·       Collaboration: The ability to do meaningful work with other students, teachers, and professionals to accomplish a common goal.  The students will be able to work with others to compile examples and ideas of others.  The students can then develop a creative project of their own based on the collective ideas of others as well as themselves.
·       Work Ethic: The ability to work hard to accomplish a goal. The students will be able to continue to consolidate, collaborate, and communicate with others through research to find materials and create a product of their own.  The students will be able to continue their search of information and development of their project until they have reached a product they are happy with.
·       Global Understanding: The ability to look at material through a worldwide eye and not just the United States of America.  The students will be able to look at topics through various other cultures, religions, and opportunities throughout the world and not just their present community.
·       Digital Literacy: The ability to portray information through a digital platform rather than the written format.  The students will be able to correctly use digital resources and accurately provide information through the digital voice rather than the traditional paper and pencil format.
·       Metacognition: The ability to be able to convey their thoughts and ideas to others.  The students will be able to understand their thoughts and be able to compile them in a way others can understand it as well.
·       Leadership: The ability to take initiative and provide a positive role model for others to follow.  The students will be able to provide a positive example for others to follow.
Although I believe all of the above skills are essential in 21st century learning, I do feel there are a couple that are necessary to understand material in the ever-changing world.  The skills I feel are priorities in my present classroom are technology, collaboration, critically thinking, and problem solving.  I believe these four skills are essential to be an effective 21st century learner because they are all skills capable of providing the learner with a deeper understanding of the material.  Problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration can provide the learner with a deeper understanding of the material and technology is essential to portray information in the 21st century environment.
            As a physical and health education teacher, there are various technology resources that support 21st century learning as well as align with the current Connecticut Common Core State Standards.  One of the resources I would like to talk about is the QR readers.  I have used the QR reader for various different opportunities in my classroom.  Not only have I used the QR reader codes to showcase student talents, but also for formative and summative assessments.  In my classroom I have students use their smartphones or school issued tablets to create a video demonstrating an activity.  The students are required to accurately demonstrate the activity, provide an explanation of importance and safety concerns when performing the certain activity.  One thing I have not had the opportunity to do yet is to take my students work and showcase the work to the community.  In our town, we have a boys and girls club that many students and community members utilize to work out. My idea for application is to take the students work and share it with the current boys and girls club.  I believe the students would love to see their work as well as their peers work outside of school.  Not only would that provide an opportunity to showcase their knowledge but also provide the community with healthy workout tips provided by the students in their town!  Here is an example of the assignment I provide my students with.  Here is another link for an aquatic workout.  Here is an example of a student work done by junior last school year. Unfortunately, the student was not required to make their own videos but could research various video which met all the requirements of the lesson.  The next time I do this activity, I would like to require the students to create their own videos to share with the class.  I would then like to put a list of all the QR reader codes on the wall so the students can create their own workout while in the weight room.  The class would turn into a student driven assignment and would give the students an opportunity to develop a program they designed.
            The second technology that supports 21st century learning and the CCSS is ubersense. Ubersense is a free program that records student’s technique when performing a skill.  The students can then analyze their form based on the example provided to them.  I have not used this program yet in my classroom but am anxious to.  +Stephanie Lavado  has given many presentations in the #itdml class showcasing how to use ubersense.  It has always seemed like a great program to use but have not had the opportunity to try it in my classroom.  How I would use it in my classroom is give students a flipped lesson on how to perform a basic skill in a unit we are doing during class.  The students will then need to use the program ubersense to record them performing the same skill.  From there the students will need to use their critically thinking skills to be able to analyze their technique and compare it to the example given. Not only will the students be able to critique their technique, but they can always provide feedback to other students in the class.
            In my eyes, 21st century skills are an understanding of material through the application, collaboration and creative process using technology as a guide to help convey messages.  The assignments and activities we do in our classroom should be aligned to assist the students in learning in the 21st century.  Project based assignments and stu
dent driven applications can help prepare the students in our ever-changing world.

200 years that changed the world (with Hans Rosling). (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2015, from  (death rate/money over time)

 Teacher Center » 21st Century Schools: Learning in the Digital Age. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2015, from (google apps/laptops "technology is like oxygen")

 New education techniques required to prepare the 21st century principal. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2015, from  (Real leadership skills — not policy, or management — and administration skills are necessary to engage a variety of school stakeholders to ensure that everyone is working for the ultimate goal in education,)

Paper Airplane Movie by Michael McMillan. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2015, from (paper airplane)

Sneak Peek: Twenty-One Trends for the 21st Century - Education Week. (n.d.). Retrieved June 5, 2015, from (trends)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Universal Design for Learning and Our Classroom

UDL and our Classroom
Week 10 Discussion- 7724

Select a lesson or topic that you are teaching or have taught in the past. Utilizing the concept of UDL (Universal Design for Learning) identify the materials that you currently use that may not be barrier free. What alternatives may be available to you (currently or with the addition of AT devices) that might mitigate the barriers presented by these material in order to improve the learning experience for all students?

UDL of Universal Design for Learning has three main principles to help assist both the teachers and the students. These three principles are having multiple methods of presentations, multiple options for participation and lastly multiple means of expression. Along with the readings for this week, this video also helped me understand what UDL is. Through the Universal Design for Learning, each student, no matter of their learning styles with experiences and techniques throughout the lessons. The UDL also serves as a learning tools so all learners are capable of understanding the material no matter what it entails.
After looking at my classroom setting and a lesson I have taught in the past I decided to focus on nutrition.  I choose this because it is a very large unit with many different areas students can personalize their learning. During the lesson, the students need to compile a week long list of meals they have eaten at home.  Once they compile the meals they the student must analyze the differences between what they have eaten in comparison to what they should be eating based on the state recommendations.  The purpose of the unit is to provide students with the opportunity to showcase their understanding of the RDA through various programs.  The students can showcase their learning through a visual display, essay form, or another creative program the students would like.  
Not only does the unit accommodate students of various learning styles, the unit provides many opportunities for students who require assistive technology.  For example, I had a student who was autistic and needed to have more of a hands on experience.  The student worked with myself and their adaptive classroom to compile a cut out of different pictures they ate.  From there, the student would pair up with another classmate and they would use the pictures to place in the program popplet.  The student was able to showcase their ideas and thoughts through the visual demonstration.  Other students used the Choose My Plate program and some students choose to use Prezi or an essay format.  Regardless of the program each student choose, they were able to learn the same information and use 21st century skills to assess the different foods.
Technology helps my students organize their thoughts and provide a platform for expressing their ideas.  Programs such as Popplet, Prezi, Choose my Plate, or Google Docs, the students are able to use UDL to learn the information as well as provide an explanation on whether or not they were meeting the RDA. Technology allows my students an application of the information we are discussing during class.  Without the use of technology, the application might not give some of my students an opportunity to fully understand the topic.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Grant Proposal For AT in Physical Education

Grant Funding Project
Week 9- 7724
Cari McKee

The Technologies for Healthy and Independent Living grant could positively influence the students of the Meriden Public School District.  The Meriden Public Schools are home to over 5,000 high school students.  Of those high school students, approximately five percent (approximately 250) high school students are physically handicapped.  Unfortunately, this means about 250 students in the Meriden Public School systems are physically unable to perform in the everyday exercises of the physical education classes.  According to the government state standards, children between the ages of 6 to 17 years should receive up to at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day.  The activity should be between moderate to vigorous activity for at least three days a week.  Not only should the students be physically active for 60 minutes a day for at least three days a week, the students should be in a fun and engaging environment.  Based on the president's council on fitness, “physical activity is 4.5 times lower for children and youth with disabilities compared to their peers without disabilities”. (Glenda, 2013)
Currently, Meriden Public Schools do not have accommodations for those students who are physically unable to perform in everyday physical education classes. The school systems currently do not have the funding to provide students who are confined to a wheelchair or other physical restrictions with adaptive equipment.  Our classrooms are set up for inclusion and therefore are unable to accommodate these five percent of students who desperately need exercise. The lack of exercise can greatly impact the students who desperately need to be active. Although there is a lack of accommodations for our physically disabled students, there is a solution to help the students be successful and achieve the optimal activity level to ensure their health is ongoing and supported. With the Technologies for Healthy Independent Living grant, technology can be provided to these students who are confined to their wheelchairs and make them active under the recommended daily allowance for physical activity for high school students.
The technology to focus on would be the wii.  This technology is a simple gaming system that can be used for children in wheelchairs as well as regular education students.  The program requires a TV or display device and the wii console.  There are various games and activities to accommodate each type of learner.  The wii program will present our physically handicapped students with an opportunity to interact, create, and play with other students in the class or individually. The wii console can be purchased for about $100 for one.  Each game can range from $10-$25 depending on the game.  There are various accessories that can be purchased from $25-$50.  Although one game system can be approximately less than $200, the impact on our student body can be irreplaceable.  I hope you can find this technology beneficial for the Meriden Public Schools and our physically handicapped students.


  1. Be Active Your Way Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2015, from  
  2. Glenda's Assistive Technology Information and more... (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2015, from  
  3. How much physical activity is needed? (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2015, from  
  4. Furlong, P. (2010). Education matters: Adaptive physical education. Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.  
  5. Ntoumanis, N., & Wallhead, T. (2014). Effects of a Sport Education Intervention on Students’ Motivational Responses in Physical Education. Teaching Physical Education, 23, 8-14.