There is one type of learner whose needs may be consistently overlooked or inadequately provided for. That is the needs of the learner with disabilities. It is important to ensure that students with disabilities and their families have equal access to curriculum and instruction. Students with disabilities have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) that uniquely describe their needs and educational interventions and accommodations. The goals set through the IEPs also ensure that the learners are continually striving to meet goals and not remain stagnant. Assistive Technology is a culturally responsive way to meet the needs of learners in the 21st Century.
Linc and Gold (2017) state, “Assistive technology (AT) enhances the ability of individuals with disabilities to be fully engaged in activities at home, at school, and within their communities-especially for children with developmental disabilities (DD) with physical, sensory, learning, and/or communication impairments” (p. 1). Two assistive technology devices/resources that can be instrumental in the learning of students with disabilities is the Lexia Core5 and the ActivTable.
The Lexia Core5 is a technology-based literacy program that provides differentiated instruction for grades Pre K-5. The Lexia Core5 “provides explicit, systematic, personalized learning in the six areas of reading instruction, targeting skill gaps as they emerge, and providing teachers with the data and student-specific resources they need for individual or small-group instruction” (lexialearning.com). Some of the ley features of the Lexia Core5 are that it “engages and motivates students in a game-like environment, provides progress-monitoring data without administering a test, and is accessible via iPad, Android tablets, Chromebook, browser, or download” (lexialearning.com).
The second assistive device is the ActivTable. “The ActivTable offers more than 200 activities, including sequencing, sorting and categorization, labeling, timelines and pairing. It empowers students to lead their own learning, which drives engagement, participation and creativity in the classroom” (activtable.com) Teachers have the ability to create lessons with the ActivTable ActivityBuilder that are engaging and can be used by single or multi-users.
Kennesaw State University is leading the way in providing resources and environments for stakeholders to understand the assistive technologies available to students. In 2015, Kennesaw opened a Universal Design for Learning lab. “It houses more than 60 technologies, applications and devices to make learning easier. The lab’s resources range from low-tech, clear colored overlay sheets that make it easier to read to the latest three-dimensional computer-simulated learning environments using virtual reality headsets” (news.kennesaw.edu). The devices within the lab are all culturally responsive because they are not able to be used to be students with disabilities, but those with exceptionalities and language learners.
Kennesaw State University. (2018). Designed to share. Retrieved from http://news.kennesaw.edu/stories/2017/universal_design_learning_lab.php
Lexia Learning-A Rosetta Stone Company. (2018). Lexia Reading Core5. Retrieved from https://www.lexialearning.com/products/core5
Lin, S. C., & Gold, R. S. (2017). Assistive Technology Needs, Functional Difficulties, and Services Utilization and Coordination of Children with Developmental Disabilities in the United States. Assistive Technology: The Official Journal Of RESNA, 1-7. doi:10.1080/10400435.2016.1265023
Promethean Limited. (2017). ActivTable Activity Builder. Retrieved from http://activtable.com/