Schools, universities, and libraries are struggling with tight budgets. How can we justify spending a lot of money to buy assistive technologies that might only be used by a small number of people?
One of my friends who is our LMS coordinator is disabled. She has always been a huge proponent for ADA compliance and throughout she has never made it about serving a small population instead she always advocating on how it can serve the larger student population. When I started to do research on the rationale for assistive and adaptive technology I immediately found literature on what she tells everyone. From the Council for Exceptional Children, the first recommendation is “Emphasize the importance of supporting and utilizing technologies that have a strong evidence base for a broad range of learners including students with disabilities”(n.d.).
As an instructional designer I have often heard assistive and adaptive technology aligned with Universal Design for Learning. I have found that many of the services provided by our Disability Support Services at my college actually benefit more than the student that identified as disabled. An example would be when Disability Services does close captioning for videos. In online learning we have found that once other students find out that close captioning is available, it is used by students who do not have hearing impairments. We have also received requests from ELL for transcipts not because of a learning disability but because sometimes the instructor will talk too fast for them to easily comprehend. Though not yet required by our college’s ADA compliance when designing a new course we try to encourage all instructors to create a transcript with their videos.
Universal Design provides flexibility in how information is presented and also how students are able to respond and demonstrate their knowledge (Alndhdi, 2014, p. 19). My rationale for using assistive technology is that is good instructional design and reaches student in multiple modalities. It is not limited to a small group of students instead all students could benefit from technology tools and design that reduces barriers in teaching and learning.
Alnahdi, G. (2014) Assistive technology in special education and the universal design for learning. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology. 13 (2) Retrieved from http://www.tojet.net/articles/v13i2/1322.pdf
Council for Exceptional Children, (n.d.), Embedding technology in education for all learners: CEC’s recommendations to the National Education Technology Plan. Retrieved from https://www.cec.sped.org/~/media/Files/Policy/Archives/Assistive%20Technology/CEC%20Recommendations%20to%20National%20Assistive%20Technology%20Plan.pdf