Sunday, November 22, 2009

Module #2

EnableMart is such a comprehensive website- a great starting point for anyone shopping for assistive technology. Our school library provides services to students with diverse learning needs, such as autism, ADHD, ADD, ESL, dyslexia, hearing and vision impairments, mental retardation, and physical disabilities. Our main goal is making sure that all of our students have access to the library resources. This is often challenging because even though there are amazing technologies out there, we do not have a limitless budget. The question then becomes, what is the most we can do with the least amount of money?

As a teacher, I make accommodations every single day. For example:
1. Physical disabilities- rearrange desks or library furniture to accommodate wheelchairs and limited range of motion.
2. Learning disabilities- utilize different teaching methods and a variety of instructional strategies for verbal, auditory, and kinesthetic stimulation.
3. Visually Impaired- Preferential seating

My needs assessment focused on technology for physically disabled students who had a limited range of motion. I researched touch monitors and ergo keyboards. Touch Monitors allow users with special needs to interact directly with the screen, resolving problems associated with the traditional keyboard and mouse. Ergonomic keyboards are specially designed and shaped to reduce strains, movements, twists and tensions and thus reduce the pain and effort of typing.

I was blown away by graphic designer Leigh-Anne Tomkins and what she has accomplished despite her disabilities from cerebral palsy. It was a real eye-opener to what humans are capable of with determination, motivation, and assistive technology. I tell my students they can do whatever they want, be whatever they want to be, and Leigh-Anne is testimony to that mantra.

All I can say is I wish I would have spent more time on Module 2 before I completed my hardware selection. I spent hours trying to figure out what hardware would best benefit a wide range of students. Enablemart is a one-stop shop for EVERYTHING! I am really intrigued by the foot track balls. As I type I am trying to envision myself using one instead of my traditional mouse. It is amazing how advanced we have become and what people are now capable of because of assistive technology.

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