What is all this equipment? Where should Ms. Milton put it?
Page 8: Tips for Helping Students With Visual Impairments Use Assistive Technology
Although Ms. Milton has examined the equipment that was delivered, she still wonders where it should be placed within the classroom and when Evan and Emily should be using the devices. Also, she’s worried because she doesn’t know how to use any of the equipment. However, armed with the knowledge that she has several resources she can consult to answer her questions (refer to Perspectives & Resources pages 1-4 of this module), Ms. Milton can rest assured.
Where do I put it?
Reviewing students’ IEPs and consulting with the TVI, O&M specialist, students, and family, can answer many, if not all, of these questions for general education teachers. In the meantime, here are some general tips:
- Large pieces of equipment that aren’t portable (e.g., table top computers, CCTVs, or braille embossers):
- Can be placed with the other classroom computers
- Can be placed on the students’ desks (if larger desks have been obtained)
- May require an electrical outlet (be sure extension cords are well covered and secured to the floor)
- Should be easily accessible
- Avoid placing computers and other equipment in front of windows to prevent unnecessary glare.
- If the students need frequent access to the equipment, seat them nearby, but still ensure their integration with classmates.
Students may carry many devices from class to class and from school to home and back; the students will likely use these devices at their desks. Backpacks with lots of pockets will allow for easy organization and transport of various devices.
Do I need to know how to use it?
Some of the assistive technology for students with visual disabilities can be learned with a short investment of time. When general education teachers acquire basic skills in technology use (e.g., turning equipment off/on, general trouble shooting for paper jams) it certainly benefits students with visual impairments. However, expertise with complex or highly specialized equipment isn’t typically expected of the general education teacher.
Likely, the TVI will reassure the teacher that he or she doesn’t need to be an expert in the use of all of these devices, but it is very helpful to know the following:
- Appropriate names and purposes of each device
- Level of the students’ skill in using each of the devices
- Strengths and limitations of the assistive devices
- Activities in which the students should be using each of the assistive devices
Sharon Sacks, PhD
Professor, CSU-LA Charter College of Education
Division of Special Education
Sharon Sacks shares her thoughts about what teachers should know about assistive technology (time: 0:38).