Kent School District embraces a collaborative vision of assistive technology and instructional technology supporting student achievement from general education to special education environments.
To efficiently address the needs of struggling learners, we are training teachers to implement the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for all students.
Our Assistive Technology (AT) team provides:
- Support through the AT Consideration Process
- Low tech, medium tech, and high tech solutions guided by the AT Consideration Chart
- Accessible software and flexible curriculum
- Trial periods with a variety of hardware devices
- Training for AT hardware and software
- Options for augmentative and alternative communication (ACC) for students with limited speech and written output due to physical disabilities
- Resources and training for implementing the principles of UDL
What is Universal Design for Learning?
Universal design is a concept originally used in architecture for the construction of buildings and materials that provide access for individuals with disabilities. This term has been expanded into accessibility for learning environments and information technology.
The term ”universal design” means a concept or philosophy for designing and delivering products and services that are usable by people with the widest possible range of functional capabilities, which include products and services that are directly usable (without requiring assistive technologies) and products and services that are made usable with assistive technologies (Assistive Technology Act 105-394, § 2432 (iv)(2)(a)(1)).
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a concept developed by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) that connects the principles of universal design to principles of learning supported by brain research and literature on learning. For effective UDL, accessibility must be considered during the planning of curriculum and activities so that access features are built into the overall design, instead of retrofitted after the curriculum has already been produced.
CAST identifies three areas for determining accessibility. In determining accessibility, educators must consider how learning tasks affect recognition, expression and engagement.
- Recognition: How are students expected to identify, interpret or recognize the information given?
- Expression: How are students expected to express or communicate their understanding of the information?
- Engagement: What is the interest of the student or what is the motivation/value in learning the information?
Definition of Instructional Technology
The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) defines instructional technology as "the theory and practice of design, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning (AECT 2005). This definition includes the wide range of materials, practice, and evaluation that are used in schools for teaching and learning.
Instructional Technology and Assistive Technology
Considering the definition above, instructional technology includes any type of technology or strategy used in the teaching and learning process. Assistive technology is a form of instructional technology specifically identified for persons with a disability requiring a device or service to receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE).
Many of the technology tools provided as typical resources for classroom instruction may also be utilized as an assistive technology device. For example, word processors are widely utilized in today's classrooms and may also be considered as an assistive technology option for some students with disabilities who have difficulty writing.
Generally, technology is considered as assistive technology if the student would be unable to independently participate in a task or independently access the resources in the environment relevant to his/her Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals without the technology. Additionally, if a student's use of technology requires a modification or accommodation to the way it is typically used, then it would likely be considered assistive technology.
In most cases, the student is accessing or applying technology in the manner or method typically used by his/her peers and the technology would not be considered assistive technology.